Two prominent Donegal political figures have expressed conflicting views over the proposed state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in May.
Bundoran Town Councillor Michael McMahon says the visit is “inappropriate” and it “enrages” him that the Queen hasn’t apologised for Bloody Sunday.
However, former Fine Gael TD Paddy Harte says he personally asked the Queen to come to Ireland way back in 1998.
Mr Harte said that when he met the Queen at the Peace Park in Flanders in 1998, all the media wanted to know what he said to her as they shook hands.
“I said: ‘Your Majesty, if you ever get an invitation to visit Ireland, please accept it.” I told her that her visit would be an important tribute to all the tens of thousands of Irishmen who died in World War 1 and helped make Europe what is today. I am not alone in believing that we must honour their memories, pople like Sean LeMass said this in 1966 and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said at the MacGill Summer School last July: ‘It is also right to recognise all those Irish men who fought in the First World War.
“Republicanism will never unite Ireland because there are one million people in Ireland who are not Republicans. And Unionism will never keep the Irish people separated. These are titles from another era that have no real relevance or meaning today.”
Sinn Féin councillor Michael McMahon disagrees. He said yesterday that he considers the visit inappropriate. “It enrages me that Queen Elizabeth, who is Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, has failed to apologise for the murder of 14 civilians by the Parachute Regiment in Derry on Bloody Sunday
“The visit is also inappropriate as she is still an occupier of part of our country.”
He added: “I am also against the visit because of the high cost of providing security, at a time when our country cannot afford it. I don’t approve of monarchy in general, as I think the money spent maintaining royals could be put to far better use.
“To be honest, the issue isn’t exactly the highest item on my agenda. But I don’t believe that a visit by Queen Elizabeth will be of any benefit to Ireland whatsoever and I will certainly be making my presence felt, and my views known, nearer the time.”
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