For the first time in a century, a reigning British monarch will make an official state trip to the Republic of Ireland, Buckingham Palace has announced.
Queen Elizabeth II has accepted an invitation from Mary McAleese. The Irish President
The timing of the Queen’s journey has not yet been announced – but no ruling British monarch has made the short trip since her grandfather King George V did so in 1911, when Ireland was still officially part of the United Kingdom.
According to reports, the historic trip will occur in May and will last several days.
It is believed that the Queen’s decision to go reflects a belief that the peace process in Northern Ireland has been a success.
The newly elected Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, whose Fine Gael party trounced the former government of Brian Cowen, welcomed the royal trip.
The prime minister is delighted that Her Majesty the Queen will be visiting Ireland,” said a spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The visit symbolizes the strength of the relationship between our nations and the bond between the British and Irish people.
The UK's relationship with Ireland has never been closer, or more important, said Britain’s ambassador to Dublin, Julian King. Our common bonds enable the UK and Ireland to work together as a strong, modern, forward-looking partnership focused on issues that matter to the British and Irish people, such as growth and jobs.
However, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein (which has been linked to the Irish Republican Army) was less than enthused.
As [Irish] Republicans, Sinn Fein is very aware of the symbolism of a state visit by Queen Elizabeth of England and of the offence it will cause to many Irish citizens,” he said. Particularly victims of British rule and those with legacy issues in this state and in the North. We are also very conscious of the attitude of our Unionist neighbors.
Adams further added: The president has invited the English monarch and Sinn Fein respects her right to do so. However we believe this visit is premature and we expect our views to be respected also. I don't think this is the right time for the English queen to come here. I don't think we can afford it, apart from anything else. As we continue to build a new dispensation, then all of those things are possible, but not now.”