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How will Ireland greet Queen Elizabeth's historic visit?

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Catherine O’Regan, a translator from Dublin, says she was nonplussed by the question.

“I don't think I have an opinion on the Queen's visit,” she says. “I think that the main reason behind that is that she is not really relevant to me. “I find it funny that the gardaí [police] have spent the last two weeks checking every sewerage hole in the city and marking them with yellow paint, yet no visible effort has been made to clean the dirt and grime off Dublin streets and pavements.”

Not all state visits are equal: “Now, Obama I'm excited about. Pity we, the public, probably wont get a chance to see him,” says Ms. O’Regan.

Hopes of normalization of attitudes between the countries ignore the fact that the two states already co-operate and citizens have, politics aside, always moved between Britain and Ireland.

Gerard Casey, professor of philosophy at University College Dublin, says ambivalence is a reflection of Britain's relative significance in the world rather than a deep commitment to republican principles.

“The King of Denmark could arrive and no one would care – it’s the same thing,” he says.

According to Professor Casey, the absence of interest stands in sharp contrast to euphoria over the forthcoming appearance of Mr. Obama later in May – despite his own lack of interest in the US president.

“The Irish people recognize who wields actual power in the world, the president of the United States, so we’re all weak-kneed at the prospect of him visiting for a day.”

There are indications that public opinion is complex, and the highly symbolic visit is not without critics. Six people asked by this reporter, two experts and four people on the street, declined to offer any comment on the visit and several more did not respond to enquiries, implying reticence to go on the public record on the matter.

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