Members of Sinn Féin, which recently emerged as the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time ever, have issued words of respect to Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee this weekend.
Michelle O’Neill, the Vice President of Sinn Féin and the First Minister designate in Northern Ireland, has written to the Queen to mark her “70 years of dedicated public service to the British people as Monarch.”
O’Neill wrote in part: “Personally, I wish to thank you for your warmth and unfailing courtesy on the occasions in which both I and my late colleague, Martin McGuinness, met with you in Belfast in 2012 during your Diamond Jubilee, and thereafter at Windsor Castle during the State Visit of President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins to the UK in 2014.
“I wish to record the value and respect I place on the significant contribution you have made to the advancement of peace and reconciliation between the different traditions on our island, and between our two islands during those years of the peace process.
“As incoming First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive I, like you, will take every opportunity to strengthen the bonds of friendship and renew the spirit of co-operation between those of us in the world of politics and public life from different traditions, and also the people and communities we proudly represent.”
I have written to @RoyalFamily congratulating Queen Elizabeth on her Platinum Jubilee, an historic day for those of a Unionist & British tradition
As a First Minister for all, I will build a better & inclusive future by strengthening friendships between all who share our island pic.twitter.com/tnBYtWKpzK
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) June 2, 2022
The day after news of O’Neill’s letter to the Queen emerged, Ciarán Quinn, the Sinn Féin Representative to North America, wrote in the Friends of Sinn Féin USA newsletter: “While some groups and institutions still cling to the past, society has moved on. It is pluralist and diverse.
“The public presentation of the British Monarchy has also changed with time.
“In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement codified that people had the qual right to be Irish or British, or both. In 2011, the British Queen visited Dublin, laid a wreath at the garden of remembrance, and issued a greeting in Irish. At the time unionists opposed the rights of Irish speakers and denigrated the actions of 1916.
“When Unionists were attacking the GAA, members of the British Royal Family were at Croke Park with hurls in hand.
“I will never be a British subject. The concept of inherited monarchy is foreign to me. But for others, it is an important symbol of identity and pride. We share this partitioned island. I hope we will share a united Ireland. A place that will be home to all. That means living n mutual respect with equal rights and shared interests.
“For those who celebrate the British Monarchy, have a great weekend. I respect your right to celebrate and hope you respect my right to differ.
“For me, I’ll be at the high altar of the GAA, Croke Park, to watch Antrim play (and hopefully win).”
Elsewhere, Conor Murphy, the Sinn Féin MLA for Newry/Armagh, attended the Platinum Jubilee Service in Armagh on Thursday. He said on Twitter after that “It’s a time for reaching out.”
Attending Platinum Jubilee Service in Armagh last night. It’s a time for reaching out, the haters are not the future. pic.twitter.com/V7p2tDlyUt
— Conor Murphy (@conormurphysf) June 3, 2022