Only halfway through this Jubilee weekend I’m beginning to flag – and I don’t mean flag waving.  But clearly there is a lot of enthusiasm (leastways in England) for a right royal celebration and, after months/years of constraints, it’s no surprise that any excuse for letting off the pressure release valve is very welcome.  Nor is it any surprise that folks like being reminded that amongst us are some good souls who really deserve and appreciate being honoured.

The honours system (despite all the baggage of the long lost / forgotten / regretted / glorious / shameful* Empire) is a really timely reminder that we all need to say thank you a lot more often and tolerate honest endeavour rather than sink into putrid ponds of petty point-scoring.

We might contrast the cost of royalty unfavourably with the plight of those discarded from the hands we’ve been dealt in this casino of capitalism.  We might dismiss honours as a cheap sop to keep the show on the road.  Maybe those objections are pricks of conscience – the sure and certain knowledge that most of us are disengaged from any form of public duty or community concern.  But to those who are recognised, or even considered for recognition, the boost is brilliant, the honour is theirs, and unless we make that process very special it would lose its energizing value.

These things are appreciated in some unlikely quarters – the message from Northern Ireland’s First Minister designate was particularly poignant and very special.  So, look past the tabloid’s predictably type-casted ‘celebrities’ and linger on the ranks of those who dedicate their time and energy, not for fame or fortune, but for the satisfaction of making communities come together.  Jubilation thanks – we could do little without you.

*delete according to belief

Platinum Jubilee letter from Michelle O’Neill to Queen Elizabeth

Personally, I wish to thank you for your warmth and unfailing courtesy on the occasions in which both I and my late colleague, Martin McGuinness, met with you in Belfast in 2012 during your Diamond Jubilee, and thereafter at Windsor Castle during the State Visit of President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins to the UK in 2014.

I wish to record the value and respect I place on the significant contribution you have made to the advancement of peace and reconciliation between the different traditions on our island, and between our two islands during those years of the peace process.

As incoming First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive I, like you, will take every opportunity to strengthen the bonds of friendship and renew the spirit of co-operation between those of us in the world of politics and public life from different traditions, and also the people and communities we proudly represent.

Leave a Comment