Sunday 21 January 2018

Taoiseach confirms there will be a formal invitation to 1916 commemorations for Queen Elizabeth

Taoiseach Enda Kenny points out places of interest to Queen Elizabeth at Government buildings in 2011
Taoiseach Enda Kenny points out places of interest to Queen Elizabeth at Government buildings in 2011
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent, in London

THE Government is preparing to formally invite Queen Elizabeth and members of Royal family to take part in the 1916 centenary commemorations.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today insisted that he would like Her Majesty and some of her relatives travel to Ireland in two years time.

Mr Kenny has teed up the prospect of yet another historic visit by the Queen, who last night hailed the close relations that have emerged between Britain and Ireland.

Speaking at an event in London this morning, Mr Kenny said his officials will put in place the necessary arrangements ahead of a potential second visit to our shores by Queen Elizabeth.

"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 government will work out what's the thing to do about this," he added.

The Taoiseach's remarks will throw up memories of the Queen's extraordinary visit to Ireland in 2011, during which she closely examined a pint of Guinness - but didn't sip it - and spoke words of Irish.

Mr Kenny said the government will 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," Mr Kenny added.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has responded to the decision by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness to attend events connected with the State visit by President Michael D. Higgins.

"What I'll try to say here, which I think was endorsed by the Queen and the President yesterday evening, that you cannot have a block of politics anchored in the past that does not allow for the next generation to move ahead,"he told reporters.

But he heaped pressure on Mr McGuinness and other Northern leaders to address the ongoing tensions in the North,

In the vernacular, President Clinton 'finish the job'. And the job has to be finished by those with responsibility, elected to politics."

At the state banquet organised in honour of President Michael Higgins, McGuinness, the former IRA leader joined in a toast to the Queen while relatives of IRA victims protested outside.

Protestors included Norma Tevett – the wife of John Tevett – who was one of those victims.

Speaking to RTE Radio 1 this morning, McGuinness said that he understands that “his family have been very hurt by the conflict.”

“But my work for conflict resolution is going to continue. There is a lot more issues that need to be faced and resolved”

“I am not going to be cowed down by anyone,” he added.

He spoke of ongoing “difficult problems” that have yet to be addressed and said he continued his “work” last night.

“I had a work with David Cameron and told that the English government have a huge responsibility.

In some ways the Taoiseach has a huge responsibility also in these issues.”

The Taoiseach was speaking after given an address to business people at the Mansion House in London.

He said the relationship between both Ireland and the UK has been strengthened by the trip by Mr Higgins and wife Sabina, as well as the visit by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland three years ago.

Her majesty made an "enormous impact" on Anglo-Irish relations, Mr Kenny told the audience.

And he revealed that he spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron about the prospect of organising a joint Trade Mission in the future.

Referring to the ongoing debate in Britain about its potential exit from the EU, Mr Kenny insisted that the EU is a "shared asset" that was given a strong endorsement by the Irish electorate during the Fiscal Treaty referendum.

He said that it is important that UK and Irish voters support politicians who have a "strategy and a plan" based on ensuring prosperity and developing the single market when they take to the polls as part of the European elections next month.

Speaking at the same event the Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf told Mr Kenny that Ireland is an "attractive prospect for any investor" because of our low corporation tax.

UK Business Secretary Vincent Cable said that both countries have a "common view of the world" and share an agenda based on making progress on "ambitious trade deals"..

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