Ireland Steels Itself For A Visit From The Queen

Originally published on May 16, 2011 12:09 pm
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Journalist Conor O'Clery joins us from his home in Dublin. Welcome back to the program, Conor.

M: Thank you, Liane.

HANSEN: Why is she visiting the Republic of Ireland now?

M: I think one should see this visit as a culmination of a process which began 15 years ago with an attempt by the British and Irish governments and the United States government to bring peace to Northern Ireland, which had been afflicted by the troubles for 30-odd years. And this process has step-by-step removed a lot of the barriers in the relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland, which have been poisoned since 1921 by the partition of the island.

HANSEN: Is there still any resentment toward Britain over the complicated history both nations have?

M: Well, one of the key things to keep in mind is that after the Good Friday Agreement in the late 1990s, a referendum was held in both parts of the island, where the majority of the people in both Northern Ireland and the republic agreed to the new constitutional arrangements that had been set in place in Northern Ireland. Most people north and south of the border fully accept now that the situation is as good as it can be and that relationships with the United Kingdom should be put on an even keel.

HANSEN: Do you expect protests of any sort?

M: There will be protests. And in fact, the authorities are quite nervous about this. And there will be no crowds along the streets or outside the venues where she's attending.

HANSEN: What are you hearing about Her Majesty's visit?

M: She's going to do some remarkable things. She's going to lay a wreath at the memorial to the Irish people who fell in the 1916 rising against British rule. And she's going to go to Croke Park, which is a very large stadium and the cradle of Irish nationalism, if you like. It's where the Gaelic Athletic Association holds its biggest games. This association was founded 100 years ago specifically to combat British culture on the island. And to see Queen Elizabeth in Croke Park is going to be some sight.

HANSEN: Does the fact that Her Majesty appreciates the Guinness Brewery work in her favor with the Irish?

M: I wouldn't put a bet on her actually downing a pint of Guinness. But the government here, which has extended the formal invitation to Queen Elizabeth to come to Ireland, is quite excited at the prospect that this will create a lot of interest in the tourism possibilities in Ireland. And, of course, we have President Obama coming the following week. So, it's going to be quite a week for this small country.

HANSEN: Journalist Conor O'Clery on the phone with us from Dublin, Ireland. Conor, thanks so much. Great to talk to you again.

M: OK, Liane. Same here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.