independent

Sunday 19 November 2017

Protests to Queen's visit were undignified and embarrassing

DEBORAH COLEMAN

WHAT WILL we do once the Obama visit is over? Once this season of state visits concludes the country will undoubtedly be back to its old doom and gloom.

But for a short time Ireland shone and mirrored its former glory as a place asfamous for its warm welcome and hospitality as its wonderful heritage sites. The visit of Queen Elizabeth was one that I was indifferent to a week ago but as it unfolded I could see the benefits to this country unfold before my very eyes.

Thanks to President McAleese and those behind the scenes we did ourselves proud and the flawless way the Queen was hosted was second to none. Mary McAleese was everything a President should be, strong, intelligent, proud and poised. It was as if her time as President had been leading up to this week. She pledged to build bridges, and that she did. Who could have ever imagined that a British monarch would be standing in Dublin Castle speaking as Gaeilge and toasting the people of Ireland? It was true history in the making.

Scenes of 'protests' in Dublin last week disgusted me. I am all in favour of free speech and agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion and their right to protest. However those so called protests were the most undignified and embarrassing spectacles we have seen in a very long time. How sickening to see louts dressed in soccer jerseys rioting in the streets for the 'good' of the entire population.

It was a known fact that not everyone would be open to the Queen's visit and that many felt that there would never be a right time while the country is divided. I accept this but what I cannot accept are the scenes that did nothing but mar one of the best opportunities we have had in years to promote the country that these 'republicans' claim to love so much.

Nobody is suggesting that we should forget the past or those lost but letting bitterness and hatred prevail is harming our country more than healing it. There comes a time when we all have to face the future in the most positive way possible.

We all know that Ireland is in dire straits. We need the support of other countries and not just Britain to ensure that we continue to trade and attract tourism far into the future.

A well known hotelier outlined this week that Ireland is always in the top ten of must-see places to visit, a wishlist highlight. What we need is to get pushed to the top so people actually come here and spend cold hard cash rather than just dreaming of it.

If we really love our country then we will do right by it and let it flourish as it has in the past. Perhaps a little more tolerance and respect all round would speed up the process.

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