British monarchists have kicked up a fuss in reaction to an unusual recognition that republicans should have the same rights as monarchists.
Pictures of Elizabeth Windsor, the UK’s hereditary head of state, have been removed from the Stormont building in Belfast because of the offence that such a partisan display can cause to republicans who work there. Stormont is where the Northern Ireland parliamentary assembly meets.
The portraits were removed following the payment of compensation to a republican civil servant who objected to having to work in a hostile environment.
However, following news media reports the Northern Ireland Secretary has ordered an internal review of the decision. He said that he was proud to have a picture of his hereditary ruler on display in his office and that there were many pictures of members of her Windsor clan in his official residence.
Unionist politicians also complained about the decision to remove the picture of the one they refer to as “her majesty”. Doug Beatie of the Ulster Unionist party said that the pictures were “a symbol of sovereignty” rather than of a partisan political belief, apparently referring to British rule in the six counties.
The Northern Ireland Equality Commission said that the display of monarchist symbols was not in itself unlawful. It added that for a complainant to have a case there would have to be a work environment that violated a person’s dignity or which was hostile or intimidating.
In the rest of the UK it is normal for monarchist ascendancy to flaunt its dominance and for the rights of republicans to be ignored. Republicans are barred from sitting in parliament or serving in the police, military and judiciary unless they swear a false oath of loyalty to the Windsor clan. Criminal courts are said to be “crown” or royal courts and portraits of the feudal head of state are displayed in courtrooms. Public institutions and structures are often named after members of the anti-democratic Windsor clan while the contributions of republicans British democracy are largely ignored.