| 11.5°C Dublin

Queen's tour was game changer -- Cameron

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has described last May's visit by Queen Elizabeth as "a game changer" in Anglo-Irish relations.

In an interview to be broadcast as part of RTE programme, The Queen's Speech, tonight, Mr Cameron said the visit put the relationship between the two countries on to a new level.

The visit, which took place between May 17 and 20, was the first time a British monarch had visited Dublin and the Republic since King George V in 1911, when Ireland was still part of the British Empire.

Mr Cameron said relations between London and Dublin had been improving, and the Good Friday agreement and the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland had created a thaw in once-frosty relations.

"It's been a game-changer, to use that terrible modern expression," Mr Cameron says.

"What was already a strong relationship, and what was already becoming warmer and more positive because of the settling down of the Northern Irish issue, I think her visit has just put that into a massive new perspective."

He also said a possible future state visit to Britain by President Michael D Higgins would be "a great idea" and that he hoped he would be prime minister if it would happen.

David Cameron pointed out the queen had started her keynote speech during the visit in the Irish language, adding: "She just warmed the hearts of people, and so this true relationship -- that I think had been going on between British people and Irish people for years -- has really now been able to flower.



WARM

"The great thing about the British-Irish relationship is that there is nothing normal about it, it is closer than normal, there are these great bonds and common interests in language and culture and so many things that we share," said Mr Cameron.

"And I can imagine a State visit, what we call an incoming visit, from an Irish president, and that would always be a matter for the palace as to when that would happen, but I can imagine it being an extraordinarily warm and friendly occasion, and I certainly hope it's something that happens while I'm prime minister," he added.

In spite of security concerns, the queen's visit passed off with few protests and was hailed on both sides of the Irish Sea as a great success.

The Queen's Speech documentary will be broadcast on RTE1 at 9.30 tonight.

In the hour-long programme Tommie Gorman revisits Queen Elizabeth's tour of Ireland, revealing the intricacies of planning her itinerary, and examining her historic Dublin Castle speech.

cfeehan@herald.ie

ENDS


Privacy