Belfast Telegraph

Queen’s visit to Reublic of Ireland is of vital importance to her: PM

By Sam Lister

The Queen’s historic visit to the Republic of Ireland means an “enormous amount” to her personally, the Prime Minister revealed at St Patrick’s Day celebrations held in Parliament.

David Cameron also branded the impending Royal tour a symbol of the “strong partnership and friendship” between Britain and Ireland as he addressed the Belfast Telegraph-sponsored reception in the House of Lords.

But that did not extend to sport as he joked that while Ireland may have won the cricket, “the rugby will be different”, referring to the weekend Six Nations final match against England in Dublin.

Turning to more serious matters, the Prime Minister pledged that Westminster’s support for Dublin would continue.

“Clearly there are huge challenges and difficulties to overcome, but I’m sure a new government with a new mandate will do everything it can to overcome them and it has our friendship, our help and our assistance,” he said.

“I can’t actually think of a time when the British-Irish friendship was so strong.

“I think the way the two countries and two governments work together, including over all the issues in Northern Ireland, is absolutely vital and welcome. I think

one of the strongest possible indications of the strength of the friendship is the fact that Her Majesty the Queen is going to be visiting Ireland very shortly.

“I know it means an enormous amount to her as it will to many people in Britain and in Ireland as a symbol of the strong partnership and friendship we have.”

The reception, organised by charity Champ, was attended by dignitaries from across the UK and Ireland, including Irish Ambassador Bobby McDonagh, deputy Commons speaker Nigel Evans, and Northern Ireland Minister Hugo Swire.

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