The arrival of Queen Elizabeth on Irish soil on Tuesday has been welcomed by Irish Americans who described the event as a momentous occasion. The royal visit marks the first in a century to Ireland by a reigning British monarch.
In Washington, D.C. Congressman Richard Neal described the Queen’s visit as a milestone.
“It demonstrates how mature the relationship has become and it heralds a new day in the relationship between the people on the two islands,” the leading Irish American representative told the Irish Voice.
Neal, the Democratic leader of the Congressional Friends of Ireland group, said that the Queen’s trip demonstrated the confidence of the Irish people.
Speaking about the possibility of protests, Thomas Burke, the national president of the Irish American Unity Conference, noted that people have the right to protest during the Queen’s visit, as long as the protests are carried out in a peaceful manner.
“I think they should frame their protests on how to show the world and Britain that Ireland is a stable country that takes things in its stride,” he told the Irish Voice, adding that he “hopes no violence ensues.”
“I don’t think anyone could have any great objection,” said Burke.
“The Queen is an elderly woman, she holds no political power and if she, like any other tourist, wanted to travel to Ireland I don’t think anyone could have any great objection,” he added.
Brian O’Dwyer, a senior partner with O’Dwyer and Bernstien law firm in New York and son of the legendary Irish American human rights activist Paul O’Dwyer, admits he is of two minds about the duration of the Queen’s visit, which will see her spending four days in Ireland.
“I was surprised at the length, everybody would have been better served if it was shorter, “O’Dwyer told the Irish Voice.
“I think it is right in terms of the British nation. Tony Blair has been very helpful in terms of the peace process but I don’t think we need to go too overboard,” he said.
“For the Irish people, it's a difficult time of difficult memories, and I understand those who think this is opening up old wounds.
“Historically l understand the enormous hurt that the British and the British crown has caused, but I think that modern Ireland should welcome the Queen with the real acknowledgment of the past,” added O’Dwyer, who also serves as chairman of the Executive Board of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, added, “The fact that we need to move forward as an Irish nation and people, we can understand and remember the past but not dwell on it.”