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Successful ‘No Royal Visits!’ Protest in Dublin

06/07/10

Upwards of eighty people last night [July 5] joined éirígí’s protest against a state visit to the Twenty-Six Counties by the British head of state, Elizabeth Windsor. Beginning at 7pm, the protest continued for close to ninety minutes. For much of that time the line of protesters, holding a variety of banners, flags and posters, stretched across the full frontage of Dublin’s City Hall.

Outside City Hall

The demonstration had been called to coincide with a debate by Dublin City Council on a motion which had been submitted by éirígí’s Louise Minihan. The full text of that motion was: “That this council notes with deep concern the proposal for a state visit to the Twenty Six Counties by the British head of state. Such a visit would be entirely inappropriate whilst the British state continues to implement imperialist policies and commit human rights abuses across the world, most notably in Afghanistan, Iraq and here in Ireland. This council calls on the Dublin government to abandon its plans to invite the British head of state to Ireland and on behalf of the proud citizens of this city we declare that Elizabeth Windsor is not welcome in Dublin.”

No Royal Visits

The City Councillors meeting inside of that building were left in no doubt as to the views of those gathered outside, as loud chants of ‘Do you hear us loud and clear, British royals not welcome here’ echoed along Dame Street.

Do you hear us loud and clear?

At roughly 7.45pm the entire protest moved from the footpath up onto the plinth of City Hall itself. At this point Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson thanked people for attending the protest before introducing the first speaker, Róisín Conlon from the Fírinne group, which represents and campaigns on behalf of the victims of British state violence in county Fermanagh. Róisín outlined Fírinne’s believe that in the absence of Britain acknowledging “its brutal and oppressive role as major protagonists throughout the last forty years” no British state visit to the Twenty-Six Counties should take place. She went on to call on Dublin City Councillors to support the Minihan motion opposing the visit.

Róisín Conlon addresses the crowd

Next up to speak was éirígí’s Ursula Ní Shionnain, who read out a symbolic list of thirty names, representing the many hundreds of victims of British state violence in Ireland. Amongst the thirty were male and female, young and old, from all parts of Ireland, all of whom were murdered by Britain’s official and unofficial forces in Ireland. A moment’s silence in memory of the dead followed.

Crowd at the plinth

During the speeches a number of councillors joined the protest including Christy Burke (Ind), Joan Collins (PBP), Mannix Flynn (Ind), Marie Metcalfe (Ind), Cieran Perry (Ind), Niall Ring (Ind), Bríd Smith (PBP), and Joan Collins (PBP). Killian Forde(Lab) and Larry O’Toole (SF) had stood with protesters during the earlier part of the protest.

Ursula Ní Shionnain

The demonstration was closed by Brian Leeson who stated éirígí’s intention to organise further opposition to a state visit by Elizabeth Windsor over the coming months. Speaking afterwards Leeson said: “Tonight represented a very fitting response to Brian Cowen’s announcement that he intends to invite the commander in chief of Britain’s armed forces to Ireland.

On the plinth

“Those who hoped that a British royal visit would be met with widespread support in the Twenty-Six Counties are in for a big surprise. We are confident that a very sizeable number of people are totally opposed to such a visit and that they will be making their opposition clear as we get closer to the time of the proposed visit.

“Tonight Dublin City Council didn’t debate the motion that Louise Minihan had submitted due to an overrun of another part of the agenda. That motion should now be heard at the September meeting of the council. We will be back here then to make sure that the elected representatives get the message that the British royals aren’t welcome in this city, or any part of Ireland. I am very confident that the protest will be significantly bigger, louder and more colourful. This is only the beginning.”

 

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