Jude Collins

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Queen's visit: commentators strike a geyser

I’m not  a man readily given to exclamation marks but WHAT A GUSHFEST! Not to say hushed we-are-all-Richard-Dimbleby obsequiousness. I was in Dublin yesterday and both from the sidelines and from on-air debate, I heard more fudge and near-grovel than I want to hear for the rest of my days. The commentating world seemed to go all moist and John Brutony, who, you’ll remember, grinned like a watermelon and declared the day of Prince Charles’s visit to the south the happiest day of his life. 

Historic, a line beneath the past, even “the end of history” –  the words came tumbling out of those assembled to pass comment. The point I tried to make on BBC Radio 5 Live and on Channel 4 was that talk like Taoiseach Enda Kenny's about this day marking “an end to the centuries of division and divisiveness between our two countries” flew in the face of the facts.

 I don’t know any historian who’d deny that the source of the ill-will and bloodshed between Ireland and England through history has been rooted in  England’s claim to political jurisdiction over Ireland. Is that claim still exercised? No and Yes. No, it’s been abandoned in the south of Ireland and yesterday sort of symbolically confirmed that, although  you’d think after sixty years, Britain would have noticed. But Yes, Britain still claims and in fact  exercises political jurisdiction over the north of Ireland. You may see that as a jolly good thing or you may see it as a dreary bad thing, but it’s there. Pretending it isn’t and spouting dutiful and poetic tributes to the visitor from Windsor is no substitute for facing up to reality.  The source of the bitterness between the neighbours still exists and it continues to distort the relationship. If those drawn to violence see a blank refusal by those in power to even acknowledge the continued existence of the problem,  there’s a real danger they’ll feel confirmed in their analysis and conclude that only a terrible, transforming gesture will resolve the situation. Now there's a thought to make us all truly weak at the knees.

Meanwhile, I wonder will Paddy Power give odds that our curtsying commentators will run out of epithets over the next twenty-four hours?

PS Here's my Channel 4 News interview on Tuesday 17 May 2011


  1. It looks like your in good company Jude.


  2. pol o conluain21 May 2011 at 15:10

    Hello Jude, as an Irishman from Belfast it has been refreshing to hear your views on the visit of the UK head of state to the Irish republic. The sad fact it reinforced is that as each year of Ireland partitioned passes more and more Irish people, from north and south, not only accept partition but appear to feel that it is here for evermore. The point Noel Dore made on RTE today with you that the Good Friday agreement has made partition the democratic choice of all of Ireland is a fact and therefore the concept of the heads of state meeting as equals can be validly argued albeit it sticks in the craw for those of us who feel partition is the fundamental outstanding problem in normalising relations between the two countries. The real sadness is that RTE and it seems virtually every commentator hailing from the republic once again so readily ignore the situation and opinions of their fellow country people from the North and prefer to wallow in their feeling of supposed "equality" with the UK