‘Even if you wanted to see the Queen, you’d struggle’
Am in O’Connell Street, Dublin, in front of the Post Office. Icons of Irish republicanism stare down. There’s a demo of about 50 republicans against the trip staging a noisy sit-in in the street. There’s some modest kettling going on. In fact, the way the barricades enclose almost every pavement in Dublin you could say the whole city’s been kettled.
The sit-in at Dublin Post Office (Gary Gibbon)
Many of the people you find behind the never-ending barricades, leaning and waiting for they know not what, are tourists visiting Dublin. Many are simply people trapped trying to get somewhere down a normally free-flowing busy street. I’ve heard a couple of suited men saying “they’re right” of the demonstrators, “she’s not welcome,” but nothing to match the republican websites’ talk of “Elizabitch.”
The route and timings of this trip are not advertised so even if you wanted to catch a glimpse of HMQ you’d be hard-pressed to manage it. One Irish broadcaster I spoke to worried that the world would think Dublin a weird, unfriendly place when the images were beamed around the world.
This was a trip long thought of and only now deemed appropriate and do-able. But what strikes you is that this symbol of normalisation looks distinctly abnormal as state visits go. No well-wishing crowds, no walkabout, a fly-past I just saw go overhead is as much as people will see til they get home to the telly.
Small march in Dublin (Gary Gibbon)