More then sixty people this afternoon joined éirígí’s protest opposing Anne Windsor’s visit to Dublin city. The colourful protest in Ballybough, which started at 3.30pm, lasted for roughly ninety minutes. Throughout this time a high degree of public support could be measured in the regular sound of car horns sounded by passing motorists. Hundreds of leaflets were also distributed to passers-by and rugby fans alike, including an open letter to rugby fans – the text of which can be seen below*.
Windsor, who was attending the Ireland V Scotland rugby international in nearby Croke Park, is both a senior member of the British royal family and colonel-in-chief of a number of units of the British military.
Her visit to Dublin is widely viewed as a ‘kite-flying’ exercise for a potential future visit to the twenty-six counties by her mother, the British queen. Those who support British rule in Ireland, on both sides of the border, have long since viewed such a visit as a major step on the road to ‘normalising’ the British occupation of the Six Counties.
Speaking at today’s protest éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson expressed satisfaction at the turn-out, ‘While éirígí had previously planned a protest for this afternoon outside of the British Embassy details of today’s protest in Ballybough were only publicised on Tuesday past. To have more then sixty people give up their Saturday afternoon at such short notice is a clear indication of the high level of public disquiet that there is at the prospect of British royals visiting this country, now or anytime in the near future.’
Brian went on to criticise the Gardai’s actions in the run up to the protest, ‘Over the course of the last couple of days the Gardai have been involved in a media-based scare tactic campaign. Garda-inspired stories of ‘ring of steel’ security operations and ‘special branch monitoring’ were carried in a number of newspapers during the week. These stories are designed to deter people from using their democratic right to public protest. Thankfully, the dozens of people here today refused to bow to such tactics and instead came out to register their opposition to British rule in Ireland.
Predicting further similar public protests Brian said ‘If those in power in London and Dublin persist in using the British royal family as a battering ram for ‘normalisation’ they can be sure that today’s demonstration is only a taster of what is to come. Republican Ireland is slowly re-aligning. A new generation of Irish citizens are beginning to question why there are 5,000 British combat troops in Ireland and why is it that partition continues to exist as we approach the second decade of the twenty-first century.’
*Text of open letter to rugby fans.
Against the Hijacking of Sport
You may, or may not, be aware of the fact that Anne Windsor, a senior member of the British Royal family, will be attending today’s rugby international between Ireland and Scotland. Her attendance at this game is part of a long-established British government strategy of ‘normalisation’ in Ireland and a precursor to an eventual state visit by her mother, the British Queen, to the Twenty-Six counties.
While the occupation of the Six Counties continues and British-imposed partition remains in place Irish republicans will rightly challenge all aspects of ‘normalisation’ – including propaganda stunts such as Anne Windsor’s attendance at today’s game.
Anne Windsor is no normal rugby fan – she also holds more than a dozen positions in Britain’s notorious armed forces, including the rank of colonel-in-chief for a number of units of the British Army.
This is the context in which éirígí have organised today’s public protest in Ballybough. éirígí is not protesting against the playing of rugby, or any other game at Croke Park. It is entirely an internal matter for the GAA which games or events it chooses to stage within its own grounds.
Today’s protest is against the British occupation of the Six Counties and the cynical use by the British establishment of a sporting event for their own political ends. It is that same establishment and not Irish republicans who have decided to politicise today’s game.
éirígí have taken the decision to protest at today’s rugby match with reluctance believing that such events should ideally be about entertainment and not politics. It can only be hoped that others, such as the British government, might come to the same conclusion sooner rather then later.
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