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Enda rolls out the red carpet for William and Kate to pop over

Royal couple William and Kate may be soon on their way to Ireland after they received an invitation to visit the country from the Taoiseach last week.

Mr Kenny informally invited the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to make their first visit to the Republic when he met them at a pre-Olympics reception for heads of state and government at Buckingham Palace last Friday.

He was introduced to them at the event hosted by Queen Elizabeth, whose first state visit to this country just over a year ago was widely regarded as a huge success.

According to the Taoiseach, his invitation was received warmly by Kate and William.

"They were very enthusiastic, and hope to get involved with some of our notable charities," he told the Irish Independent.

He added that Prince Charles and Camilla, who he also met at the Olympics reception, were also "very keen" to visit Ireland.

William and Kate -- pictured belowat the equestrian eventing final at the London 2012 Games in Greenwich Park yesterday -- have visited several countries since their marriage in April 2011, including Canada, the US and Denmark. This would be their first visit to Ireland.

But the Taoiseach added that strict protocol surrounded the formal issuing of such invitations which are extended to Buckingham Palace through the Irish embassy in London. And yesterday the palace would not comment on whether or not the duke and duchess would be able to accept it. "They get asked to travel to many places, but they would've been pleased with the invitation," said a palace spokesperson.

Also, alongside his royal duties, Prince William has little spare time on his hands as his position as an RAF search and rescue pilot requires him to clock up many hours of flying-time.

If they do decide to take up the Taoiseach on his offer, the visit will only be announced by Buckingham Palace two weeks in advance. Already the couple have a busy travel schedule pencilled in for this year, with planned trips to Malaysia, Singapore and the Solomon Islands as part of the queen's jubilee year celebrations.

While in the palace, Mr Kenny he also met a member of the queen's household, Jason Clancy from Ballinasloe, Co Galway. "He had trained in Letterfrack's woodwork college and is now the only antique wood restorer on the palace staff," he said.

The Taoiseach revealed details of his invitation to William and Kate yesterday in Galway where he and Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney were at the Marine Institute in Oranmore to launch the Government's Ocean Wealth plan.

This plan aims to raise badly-needed revenue from the 'ocean economy' by tapping into the €1.2bn global market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas and renewable ocean energy -- Ireland owns a whopping 200 million acres under the sea, and the Government wants to raise over €6.4bn a year by 2020 from the treasures nestling in Davy Jones's Locker.

And both the Taoiseach and the minister were gung-ho about this revenue-raising wheeze. "The doors -- and the waves of opportunity are opened," said Enda. "This country turned its back on the ocean for decades in a way that it should never have done," he declared.

'I came here today to send a political signal that Government is going to back this. This plan is dynamic -- we don't want this plan to sit on a shelf gathering dust, we've had too many pages which have become glued together through inactivity and time."

Simon was also fired up about making waves with this plan.

"If you get on a plane in Galway airport you can fly for two-and-a-half hours and still be over Irish sovereign territory, the sea," he pointed out, vowing that he was going to be "a very active and pushy chair" of the Marine Coordination Group, which will oversee all parties involved in the plan.

Surprisingly, Enda wasn't heading for Ballybrit and the Galway Races, which is a bit of a break from tradition, whereby the Taoiseach of the day rubs shoulders with the punters (always early in the week before they start to lose their shirts and good humour).

Perhaps it was the dreadful weather that put him off, or the lingering sulphurous smell left by the dismantled Fianna Fail fundraising teepee.

Though he might've fancied a flutter on one runner in the 5.35pm -- Royal Blue Star.

Just for luck, like.

Irish Independent