Enormous tourism boost will come our way if trip runs smoothly
Published 18/05/2011 | 05:00
MY British mother-in-law awoke with a jolt yesterday morning.
On the last day of a short visit to us, she had been slumbering to the sound of BBC radio news. They were leading with the story that two suspect devices had been found in Kildare and Dublin just hours before Queen Elizabeth's visit.
A proud supporter of the royal family, she stood on the landing with a look of worry in her eyes. "Was this a terrible idea after all?" she asked, no doubt echoing the thoughts of many Britons who fear for the safety of their beloved monarch during her Irish visit.
I tried to put her mind at ease but inside I felt a sickening flashback to the bad old days, and cursed the tiny handful of lunatics doing such harm to our country's already tattered image.
On Friday, if this monumental royal visit draws to a close in the hugely successful and dignified way it began, genuine Irish patriots will breath a joyous sigh of relief. For they know the enormous benefits our shattered economy will reap if everything goes to plan.
It will give the country the kind of exposure money cannot buy. It will send out a message to our nearest neighbours, who hold a deep affection for Ireland despite the atrocities they have suffered in her name, that they are very welcome here.
Single-handedly, the British holidaymaker has the ability to turn our economy around. They represent 50pc of the tourism market, accounting for 40pc of visitor revenue. Tourism Ireland has estimated that this visit alone will generate €150m in positive publicity worldwide.
As we drove to Dublin Airport yesterday morning, and the queen's jet made its way over the Irish Sea, my mother-in-law's fears started to subside as she looked in wonder at the armies of gardai lining the motorway verges.
"They've gone to all that trouble?" she asked. "How very kind!"