Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Queen Elizabeth 'to visit Republic of Ireland in 2011'

A visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic is on the cards for next year before the end of President Mary Acleese's term in office.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said that he still expected developments on the visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011 but it would not happen in the lifetime of the present Government.

"I think the way has been cleared for a visit, that is how I would look at it, and I would expect something to happen in 2011," he said.

President McAleese is understood to be keen for a state visit by Queen Elizabeth to happen before the end of her term.

The Irish government is expecting further progress next year on the preparations for the controversial visit by the queen.

The President has discussed the status of the proposed visit with Taoiseach Brian Cowen on a number of occasions this year.

President McAleese's second seven-year term in Aras an Uachtarain will end next year when a new President is elected towards the end of 2011.

Mr Cowen has given President McAleese updates on the proposed visit over the course of recent meetings.

The Taoiseach indicated earlier this year that the queen would probably make a state visit to Ireland before the end of 2011. Mr Cowen said the process of arranging such a visit had begun between the Government and Downing Street.

Mr Martin said he believed the queen should come as British-Irish relationships had transformed in the last 20 years through the Northern Ireland peace process.

"To me the natural, I think, end point of all of that would be the queen coming to Ireland as a formal head of state meeting our head of state.

"Our head of state has received heads of state from all over the world and at this juncture, in this era, it seems odd to me that the head of state of our nearest neighbour hasn't been here yet," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin admitted that the royal visit would not happen before the Republic's General Election.

"That timeline will not accord with an electoral timeline."

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