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Queen to make two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of Jubilee tour

THE QUEEN will make a two-day visit to Northern Ireland in June as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK, Buckingham Palace announced today.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will travel to Enniskillen and Belfast next month.

At the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland the Queen visited Ulster during her Silver Jubilee tour in 1977; she also visited during her Golden Jubilee year in 2002.

Buckingham Palace said: "As previously announced, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom.

"Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will visit Enniskillen and Belfast on June 26 and 27.

"Further details of the programme will be confirmed in due course."

The peace process in Northern Ireland has seen normality return to the streets of Belfast and across the province during the past decade.

The Queen last visited Northern Ireland in 2010 and since then there have been numerous tours by members of the Royal Family to Ulster.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander, gave his clearest signal yet last month that he might meet the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee tour.

A handshake between Mr McGuinness and the Queen would be a hugely symbolic gesture and comes after her historic visit to the Republic of Ireland last year.

While in Dublin she laid a wreath at the Republic's Garden of Remembrance - dedicated to all those who fought for Irish independence from Britain.

Speaking at a Dublin conference last month to mark the success of the peace process, Mr McGuinness said he would not be found wanting when compromises needed to be made.

Asked about a possible meeting with the Queen, he said: "It's making clear that the enormous progress that's been made in recent times has been made because politicians have been prepared to compromise.

"Compromise to me in the peace process is never a dirty word.

"There are big challenges ahead for all of us. Not just for me, but others in the process. We all have to be big enough to rise to these challenges. Am I big enough to rise to these challenges? Absolutely. My track record shows that's the case."

As part of the celebrations during the four-day Diamond Jubilee weekend, beacons will be lit across the country on Monday evening.

Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland has been chosen as the site where the first beacon in the UK will be lit, one of 51 across the province.

Press Association

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