Belfast Telegraph

Adams wary of Republic royal visit

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said a planned visit by the Queen to the Republic of Ireland is premature and will offend some people.

Buckingham Palace has announced the Queen accepted an invitation from the Republic's President Mary McAleese to pay a state visit this year.

It will be the first official tour of the Republic by a British monarch. A date has not been set but it is widely expected to be in May.

"As Republicans, Sinn Fein is very aware of the symbolism of a state visit by Queen Elizabeth of England and of the offence it will cause to many Irish citizens, particularly victims of British rule and those with legacy issues in this state and in the North," Mr Adams said. "We are also very conscious of the attitude of our unionist neighbours."

Mr Adams said the party was in favour of the normalisation of relationships between Ireland and the UK.

"This will require the ending of the partition of Ireland and the ability of all the people of this island to shape our own society free from outside interference," he said. "The Good Friday Agreement provides for this and the process to achieve it is an ongoing focus for Sinn Fein. The President has invited the English monarch and Sinn Fein respects her right to do so.

"However, we believe this visit is premature and we expect our views to be respected also."

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein's Ard Chomhairle (ruling executive) would be meeting on March 12.

"We will give a considered view after that meeting and as the details of the visit emerge," Mr Adams said.

The Irish Government said it welcomed the imminent trip. "The visit will mark a further improvement in the very good relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom," it said in a statement.

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