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Queen 'should pay bed and board'

The Queen should be asked to pay for "bed and breakfast" to cushion the cost of her State visit on hard-pressed Irish taxpayers, it has been claimed.

With the Dublin and London governments finalising details of next month's historic trip, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was urged to ask the Royal Family to foot some of the bill.

Mr Kenny said the full cost of the visit was not yet known.

In the Dail, Socialist TD Joe Higgins suggested to Mr Kenny that the Queen pay for food and board given the state of Ireland's finances.

"In view of the fact that the Royal Family of Britain is one of the wealthiest families in the world and this country is almost sleeping rough, so to speak, figuratively, would you ask the Queen if she might make a contribution towards her own bed and breakfast costs to assist the unfortunate taxpayers, and go easier on them," Mr Higgins said, sparking laughter from some deputies.

Ireland is also due to welcome US President Barack Obama to Ireland next month leading to another massive operation by the state's security forces.

Mr Higgins told the Dail it had been speculated the President was visiting Ireland to win support from Irish Americans when he goes for re-election next year.

"Isn't it a bit rich really that the Irish taxpayer, as well as bailing out European speculators, must now make a contribution to the re-election campaign of the United States' President?" Mr Higgins said.

The Taoiseach said other countries would give a lot to have a visit from two global figures within a short space of time.

"I see that as an investment for business, for tourism, for the development of our economy and for the projection for Ireland as a country that has grown up, and that faces the future, has dealt with adversity in the past and will again in the future, and will be a better people," the Taoiseach said.

"Both Queen Elizabeth and President Obama are warmly welcome to our shores."

The royal trip will take in a tour of several historically significant sites in Dublin including Croke Park, the scene of a massacre by British troops, and the Garden of Remembrance, which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom.

The trip, from May 17 to 20, will be the first by a British sovereign to the Republic.

The historic visit will also include events at Trinity College, the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, and the Guinness Storehouse.

Cork and Cashel are also on the agenda along with a private visit to Coolmore - the world-renowned international thoroughbred racehorse stud in Tipperary.