First among equals.

As we here in the Republic of Ireland have just elected a very 21st century head of state our neighbours struggle with their feudal institutions.

Fitfully the British step into a world envisaged my Emmeline Pankhurst at the start of the 20th century.

Females are no longer 2nd class royals in the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan.

It is also now ok to marry a Catholic (remember this is 2011) and remain in royal succession.

This was a sort of 17th century “guess who is coming to dinner” rule.

Marry a Papist and you were out of the royal succession game.

Despite these rules changes the British monarch still cannot be a Catholic.

This is 2011 just in case you were wondering.

Of course the hereditary principle itself it the biggest affront to any society that claims to be based on the principles of equality.

Still the British monarchy is no longer sexist, just sectarian.

It is little wonder that the rough trade which follows Rangers feel validated by the institutions of the British state in their anti-Catholic bigotry.

I expect to meet with my head of state at some point during his term of office.

He is my equal.

I voted for him.

Michael D Higgins is Uachtarán na hÉireann because I and over one million other Irish citizens gave him our permission to hold that office.

He grew up in a poor household in the west of Ireland and he is our president now because of the mandate of the Irish people and not by the privilege of his birth.

He is the elected guardian of our written constitution.

This is, after all, 2011.

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