SF applauds hunger strikers as royal motorcade passes

A NUMBER of protests passed off without incident just over 100 metres from the English Market during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Cork.

Members of Sinn Féin applauded at the moment she was exiting her car on the Grand Parade but they were quick to point out that the clapping was in honour of Bobby Sands and other hunger-strikers whose names were being sung by the band on the back of a lorry. They had struck up the song Joe McDonnell as the royal motorcade passed just 50 metres away from the protest on Sullivan’s Quay.

While members of the public lining the route of the official cars on South Mall and Grand Parade enjoyed the music of the army’s Band of the Southern Brigade, the Sinn Féin protest involved republican songs and descriptions of the burning of Cork by British forces in 1920.

The event was also addressed by Margaret Urwin from Justice for the Forgotten, who repeated calls for the British government to open security files relating to the loyalist bombs that killed 34 people in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.

As the car carrying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh drove past just across the river soon after 2.30pm, some of the 300 people attending the Sinn Féin event released hundreds of black balloons.

“They are to commemorate all those thousands of Irish men and women who have fallen at the hands of British Crown forces,” said city councillor Henry Cremin.

The quay was also the scene of protests by a number of other groups, including around 40 members of dissident republican group the 32-County Sovereignty Committee.

Dozens more gathered under banners and flags of Republican Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Socialist Party. They booed loudly and chanted “Brits Out” as the motorcade passed.

While the Queen was in the English Market, around 60 people — mostly with the 32-County Sovereignty Committee group — approached the Nano Nagle Bridge. Some shouted abuse at gardaí during a 10-minute standoff, before moving to South Gate Bridge, where around 30 members of the garda public order unit blocked their entry to the city centre.

A similar situation ensued at Clarke’s Bridge, where the protesters were again met by public order officers, some in riot helmets and shields, along with garda dogs and mounted gardaí.

They then returned to Sullivan’s Quay and most left the scene, just a few dozen remaining to see the royal visitors pass back through the city on their way to Cork Airport.

Cork North Central Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said: “Nobody can criticise us for the way we handled ourselves. There was a clear distinction between our event and other groups who wanted to protest.”

Picture: The Sinn Féin protest on Sullivan’s Quay during the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Cork city. Picture: Denis Scannell


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