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Beyond the handshake… June 28, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.

This caught my eye amongst all the coverage of the handshake.

But the monarch made another move which in the long term might even overshadow the significance of her much-publicised encounter with Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness this morning.
This was when she crossed the street to St Michael’s, the first time, in her 20 royal visits to Northern Ireland, that she has visited a Catholic church.
There she met a wide array of representatives of community, charitable and sporting organisations including local GAA figures.

The first time in 20 royal visits to Northern Ireland, 20 visits across decades? Isn’t that remarkable, and not in a good way?


1. steve white (@lostexpectation) - June 28, 2012

can you please, say what you mean.


2. smiffy - June 28, 2012

Isn’t the point that it’s kind of bad that she’s never visited a Catholic Church in all the times she’s been to NI in the past? Am I missing something?


WorldbyStorm - June 28, 2012

That’s it exactly. As a gesture in the context of the deep sectarianism of the North (and in particularly in respect of how that has played out as political expressions) one can think of various junctures where that might have been of great significance and some value.


Garibaldy - June 28, 2012

In fairness, there probably were practicalities mitigating against this during the Troubles. Can you imagine the Paisleyite reaction for example, never mind the likely reaction from parishoners? That’s assuming the hierarchy would have reacted positively to the suggestion.


que - June 28, 2012

well it just shows up how farcical their claim to be honest brokers was


3. que - June 28, 2012

also i’d be surprisde if the hierarchy wouldnt have been welcoming. remember in the south of our country they were fairly gung ho in condemning the warm of independence only coming around to see the light when the war was nearly over.


Garibaldy - June 28, 2012

I think there would have been a question of timing. My suspicion is they had enough on their plates with – for example – banning gloves and berets from churches to pick a fight like this as well, even though there probably would have been little objection in principle.


WorldbyStorm - June 29, 2012

Entirely taking that point on board and definitely there’d be problems I’d have thought a small meeting or visit ot a chapel somewhere under the happy gaze of our local Cardinal whoever he mght have been could have been arranged say from 2000 onwards, no? 2012 seems very very late in the process.

It also raises a question was that genuinely a significant societal shift we saw represented during the week, putting aside all our own attitudes to the monarchy etc and is the idea that it may be bigger than the McGuinness/Queen meeting true? It’s very hard to judge at this remove.


4. Mick Fealty - June 30, 2012

I think a lot of us have been searching all week to find out what this handshake meant. Answer Paddy Smyth gives is, not a lot:


There’s two factors worth noting before we wring our liberal hands off down to stumps. One, back in the day we Catholics had to ask the priest for permission to even enter an Anglican church. This lady is head of that church and for much of her reign has not always been allowed enter Catholic churches

There is a photo floating about which reputedly is of the Queen’s visit to NI in the sixties visiting a school up the Falls with all the kids all turned out with union jacks…

The unionist who told me about it then said, “how badly wrong did *we* get things?” Well, badly probably. But they weren’t the only ones. You don’t go where you are not welcome.

Or where people may be *fearful* (http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/06/27/martins-handshake-lifts-another-layer-of-fear-from-the-legacy-of-the-long-war/ )of inviting you.


5. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2012

That’s a very interesting point about when the RCC would have been open to such a visit. I’ve found a Vatican doc from 1993 which clearly allows for visits by non-Catholics to Catholic churches so really any time since then would have done the trick.

Whether it would have been politically possible is a different issue.


Mick Fealty - July 1, 2012

Indeed. That is just about concurs with our ‘Blessed Peace Process’ in which almost everything is for sale/negotiation in Northern Ireland. NIO gets primary say over these things, and they were in constant contact with ‘all the Armies’ in Northern Ireland.

Even if the British sovereign had wanted to, she would have had to have acted on the say so of various others.


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