Queen Elizabeth slipped into Northern Ireland this week and met the Irish rugby team and President Mary McAleese during her stay.

It may seem rather silly really that she can come to Northern Ireland, but dare not cross the border because of the old antagonisms of history and fears that Dublin will riot.

But I think it is right. As long as the British head of state can only be from the Church of England then they should steer clear of Ireland.

There is enough religious discrimination in the world and to have it institutionalized by the British state is unacceptable .

Act of Settlement

The Act of Settlement of 1701 provided that those who were Roman Catholic, and those who married a Roman Catholic, were barred from ascending the throne "for ever."

There are attempts underway to change the act and Ireland can help to make that happen.

It is quite likely that many in Ireland would instead fawn over her majesty, given that there is nothing quite like a royal visit to bring out the forelock-tugging in the Irish.

We can only remember with shame the low point of all this when then Prime Minister John Bruton said that Prince Charles was his role model during a trip to Dublin by the prince.

If being a member of the lucky sperm club, practicing religious discrimination and living off the public purse all your life is your cup of tea, then Charles or Lizzy or scores of other minor royals should be your role model.

However, Ireland is a republic these days and the head of state is elected and can be of any religion. We should demand the same freedom of religion from Ireland’s closest neighbor before the Queen sets foot there.