Tuesday 24 October 2017

President's peace plea for queen's visit

President Mary McAleese and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands yesterday
President Mary McAleese and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands yesterday

Edel Kennedy in the Netherlands

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese has warned that dissidents pose a threat to Queen Elizabeth during her historic visit this month, and to the island of Ireland in general.

However, she appealed to those involved in paramilitary activity to listen to "99.999pc of people" and the will of the majority who want peace.

Speaking during an official visit to the Netherlands, the President said the first visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland, beginning on May 17, would be a "celebration".

But she said there would be obvious security issues.

"Regrettably, the dissidents pose not just a threat to that visit, but they pose a threat more generally," she said last night. "They are what I might call the tail end of a very old, tired, failed, culture of trying to resolve political problems through paramilitarism.

"Everybody else on the island, 99.999pc of people, they have figured out that paramilitarism doesn't bring your political resolutions, dialogue brings your political resolutions."

But she appealed to those who were intent on violence, and to those who killed Constable Ronan Kerr, to "listen to the will of those who live around you".

"I'm sure family members, neighbours, and all those who live in your community, they belong to the vast majority who want our problems solved in a humanly dignified and decent way.

"And that way is through political dialogue and not through bullying."

Her comments came during an official two-day visit to the Netherlands which was aimed at fostering further trade links between it and Ireland.

She also referred to comments by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands earlier in the day, who spoke of her admiration for the Irish and their determination to get through the economic crisis.

Yesterday the President also visited the European Space Station in Noordwijk and the Mauritshuis Gallery in the Hague with her husband, Dr Martin McAleese.

Irish Independent

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