Friday, December 09, 2005


Queen and President in historic meeting

A historic meeting has taken place between the Queen and President Mary McAleese.

The meeting between the two yesterday at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, marked the first time the two had ever met on the island of Ireland.

The meeting has intensified speculation of an unprecedented state visit to the Republic by the Queen.

In June of this year, President McAleese indicated she would welcome such a visit to the Irish Republic by the Queen.

Mrs McAleese said: "It was a very special day for Anglo-Irish relationships."

A decision on when the Queen should visit the Republic was not down to her, she said.

"I'm long on record as saying that I would welcome it very warmly.

"But it's a matter for the two governments.

"Earlier this year, after the Co-Operation Ireland dinner, it was said then that the two governments were in agreement that the visit should take place."

The timing of that visit would depend on the "final consummation of the peace process in Northern Ireland", she said.

"I think things are developing. Things are going in the right direction, so the day gets nearer."

Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales have made visits to the Irish Republic already but diplomats have been waiting for the right time for a historic state trip by the Queen.

Personally I think it was great that the Queen and the President met yesterday for the first time on Irish soil.

I think it's high time that the Queen visited the Irish Republic. I think she would be greeted warmly and I think it would dispel alot of unionist notions that the Irish Republic is hostile towards Britishness.

Symbolically, it would be a massive gesture. Let's see it happen.


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