N. Ireland Politics

Old grievances die hard in NI

Pope Benedict
Image caption The Orange Order in Ireland says members should not welcome the Pope to the UK

Danny Morrison has been chatting amiably to Prince Charles at Glastonbury.

Ian Paisley has paid a respectful visit to the resting place of Irish republican heroes at Glasnevin Cemetery in the company of Bertie Ahern.

The Queen is making an official visit to Ireland and the Pope is en route to England.

Why should any of the above surprise us? The year is 2010 after all. Should grievances from previous centuries rule behaviour in this one?

For some, the answer to that question is a defiant "yes", because they argue that those grievances - though stemming from a previous century - have relevance today.

Theological objections

The Orange Order in Ireland has said members should not welcome the Pope to the UK because of theological objections.

"Anyone welcoming Pope Benedict is in danger of appearing to acknowledge his primacy and universal supremacy as vicar of Christ on earth," they argue.

So, it's about the order's belief that the Pope sees himself as God's man on earth with dominion over all before him. They reject his apparent claim to supremacy.

Sinn Fein has said it will oppose the visit of the Queen to the Republic scheduled for next year, the first by a British monarch since partition in 1921.


"Sinn Fein opposes the proposed state visit of the Queen of England, commander-in-chief of the British armed forces," said TD Caoimhghin O Caolain.

"Until there is complete withdrawal of the British military and the British administration from Ireland, and until there is justice and truth for victims of collusion, no official welcome should be accorded to any officer of the British armed forces of any rank," he continued.

So, like the Orange Order, the objection is one about perceived claims of dominion. She's not our boss, say Sinn Fein, and he's not ours say the Order.

Of course, the Northern Ireland-born president of the Republic has no problem greeting the UK's head of state.

Mary McAleese has been to Buckingham Palace on behalf of the nation and greeted the Queen at a number of events marking the sacrifices of tens of thousands of Irishmen who died in the trenches of the First World War as members of the same armed forces.

And the supreme governor of the Church of England, Elizabeth II, has no problem meeting popes, despite the rather bitter nature of the row between her 12th Great Grand Uncle, Henry VIII, and Pope Clement VII in the 16th century.

On Sunday's Politics Show we'll examine the political etiquette of dealing with these issues and Yvette reports on one area of education where cuts are already biting hard.


PS - Politicians here may live by ancient values, but age isn't always prized. Youthful new DUP MLA Paul Givan, 28, was hoping to take the title of Youngest MLA. Unfortunately for him Daithi McKay, 28, of Sinn Fein retains the title with a few months to spare.

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