HM Queen will pay her first state visit to Republic of Ireland before the end of next year, the Irish Government has revealed. Dublin and Wicklow L.O.L. 1313 have been working behind the scenes and calling for this to happen for a number of years now and are hopeful that the ever increasing special relationship between the UK and Ireland will be further cemented by the visit.
After a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron in London, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he wanted to see the official engagement before President Mary McAleese leaves office.
Mr Cowen said there was now no obstacle in the way of Queen Elizabeth coming to Ireland.
“Normal courtesies involving the exchange of State visits between heads of states is something that can and should happen and I believe should happen during the tenure of our own president, who herself has been a bridge-builder for peace”, Mr Cowen said.
The Taoiseach said he raised the matter of a state visit with Mr Cameron “in the context of the transformational relationship that has taken place” between the two countries.
Mr Cowen said he believed “no obstacle” exists “for those normal courtesies of friendly neighbouring states exchanging visits through heads of states”.
He said a process has now been started between his office and that of the British prime ministers’ where the prospect of such a visit will be examined.
Mr Cowen said a visit “would be a good development” and added that “the importance of an exchange of State visits says a lot about the modern bi-lateral relationship that we now have”.
Significantly, Mr Cowen spoke of closer relationship Ireland the UK now have. “We have very strong trade links. There is more trade going on between Britain and Ireland than between Britain and China and India combined. We have a strong economic and familial relationship”.
“Many Irish people who have made their living and reared their families here, and those connections are replicated in Ireland as well”, he said.
Mr Cowen, who met Mr Cameron for talks in Downing Street, said a state visit by the Queen, and a return trip to Britain by an Irish President, would be part of the normal courtesies enjoyed by friendly, neighbouring states.
President McAleese, who is known to have worked behind-the-scenes for a bridge-building visit, suggested the wheels were firmly in motion for the symbolic event next year.
“Following today’s meeting between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Cameron in London, President McAleese looks forward to the prospect of a visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth in the near future,” said her spokeswoman.