Kenny and Gilmore open the door for a royal return in 2016
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have indicated that the Government will formally invite members of the British royal family to take part in the commemoration of Ireland's independence.
The announcement has raised expectations of a prompt return visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth who this week pledged that her family and government would stand "side-by-side" with Irish people during the anniversary of 1916.
Government sources have said the queen was "extremely keen" to make a return – three years after becoming the first reigning British monarch to visit our shores in a century.
The same sources say that members of the Irish Government are likely to be involved in commemoration events for World War I victims in the UK during the same period.
The prospect of an invitation being extended to the royals was confirmed by both Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore at separate events in London yesterday. Speaking to reporters in the city's Mansion House, the Taoiseach said he would like to see the queen return for the commemorations.
"I was actually very pleased to hear the queen herself speak last night, saying that members of her family and her government would stand side-by-side with representatives from Ireland at appropriate commemorative ceremonies, and gov- ernment will work out what's the thing to do about this," he said.
Mr Kenny said the Government would work out how best to map out the commemorative events being planned for 2016, given that some of the events will be "quite sensitive".
"As you know, we are entering the start of the decade of centenary, commemorative events. It's important that some of these that are quite sensitive, be dealt with very properly, taking into account all of the traditions and so on," he added.
Mr Gilmore also said he was favourable towards extending an invitation but he did not specifically say whether the queen would be invited.
Mr Gilmore was speaking before a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.
He said: "Both the British and the Irish Government are very conscious that we should do this together. That we should commemorate the things that we share together, this is a shared history.
"It is something that we should do together. I think the Government will consider issuing a invitation for participation in these events."
Mr Hague said that commemorating these events would help to "bring people together for the future".
"I think with all these very important centenaries coming up over the next four years, it's important for us to commemorate these things together in a way that helps to bring people together for the future," he said.
"Remember how many lives were lost in so many conflicts all around the world in that period. And I think, with all of them, including commemorating the Easter Rising, it is important to observe those principles that I was just talking about that we commemorate them together in a way that helps to bring people together for the future."