SINN Féin must have been greatly relieved that the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – or Elizabeth Windsor, if you are from Óglaigh na hÉireann – came after the recent elections.
It has meant that they have not had to face all that awkwardness surrounding the visit of the Queen.
Gerry and his beard have looked particularly uncomfortable; with a sort of ‘not the right time’ and ‘some more apologies from the Brits please’ beginning to sound distinctly churlish in the wake of wall-to-wall coverage.
In fact, some of the coverage passed ‘over-the-top’ on the way to complete and utter overkill.
The media struggled for another commentator to repeat the word ‘historic’ every few seconds of interview time.
Which left the half-hearted dissention of Sinn Féin and the rabid dissidents casting stones and vitriol: and in an ironic twist one of those rabid protestors was wearing the shirt of an English football team…
To a certain extent it was not in Sinn Féin’s interests to make too much of a deal about the Royal visit. Their focus in the Republic is on the economy; and Barack Obama’s advisers look closely at recent statements of political parties before he touches down.
And in Norn Iron Martin McGuinness is shoulder to shoulder with Peter Robinson on their personal agenda of making it all better here in the north.
Obviously Martin couldn’t be seen at the state banquet in Dublin Castle but such is the new found, if tentative, matey-ness of the two that Peter is said to have brought back a wee doggie bag of leftovers for their plotting sessions on the downfall of the UUP and SDLP.
Whether the Queen managed to notice the absence of Sinn Féin at the banquet will remain unknown in line with protocol, but at the Irish National Stud could it have been the case that Sinn Féin like all the other politicians, were waiting for a tip from Her Majesty on the 3.15 race at Chepstow…
Whatever the case, the visit of the Queen leaves Sinn Féin with a dilemma in terms of their public positioning. If they maintain their vocal anti-royalist stance, tying the monarchy into past issues, the public will largely ignore this, or worse still lambast them. If they choose to let the wedding and royal visit furor die down then the hardliners may ask why they have kept relatively quiet.
Whatever the case a wee secret bad part of Gerry and Martin must be hoping for a tabloid royal scandal exposé very soon…