“A Uachtaráin agus a chairde”
With these words, followed by the Irish President’s gasped “Wow!” and the 170 odd guest’s applause, Queen Elizabeth did more for Peace in Ireland than can ever be imagined. The speech that followed set the perfect tone and was, quite frankly, a masterpiece. The tone was of mutual admiration, understanding and desire to move forward. The focus was not on politics but on families and relationships – the things that really matter. In her own words, all involved were “able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it”.
At the time I was a few blocks away, yes – in a pub. With much of the city centre closed at various times during the visit it has been a strange feeling – you certainly cannot ignore that there’s something going on. And despite the full contingent of Gardai, the miles and miles of barriers and the strangely sealed post boxes and manholes, the feeling has been boyant and positive. Yes, a bomb was found on a bus and a few hoaxes discovered since, but the feared protests have been so pathetically small that they have helped to highlight to the world that peace can prevail.
I remember as a kid thinking that Ireland was just a place where everyone bombed everyone else. All I saw of it was the bombs on the news. When I arrived, I had a sence of trepedation – not knowing what I would find. And I’ve heard so many stories since coming here of people crossing the border and having guns in their faces, of being singled out for special security searches and the like.
We’ve come an awfully long way – and no doubt we still have a way to go. But the light at the end of the tunnel is nolonger a pinprick, it is bright enough that we can see the door.
Oh and my gosh she looked fabulous!