Kenny keen for queen to take part in 1916 commemorations

‘As a Government we will work out what is the best thing to do about this’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister  Martin McGuinness (right) talk with  British prime minister David Cameron at the state banquet in Windsor last night. Photograph: Reuters

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (right) talk with British prime minister David Cameron at the state banquet in Windsor last night. Photograph: Reuters

Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 15:58

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he would like to see Queen Elizabeth visit Ireland to take part in the 1916 centenary commemorations.

Mr Kenny said he was “very pleased” to hear the queen tell a state banquet for President Michael D Higgins at Windsor Castle last night that members of “her family and government” would stand side by side with the Government as it marks the anniversary.

The Taoiseach said he had made clear that it would be the Government’s intention to, where appropriate, invite members of the royal family to attend and that the queen had now given her “endorsement” to the notion.

However, he cautioned that there was protocol attached to royal visits and that some of the commemorative events were “quite sensitive” and needed to be “dealt with properly taking into account all of the traditions and so on”.

“From a Government perspective we have to work out with our authentic historians on the best way to do these things in a commemorative sense, taking into account the spectrum of different opinion over the years and then to see what might be appropriate for the royal family to attend,” he told reporters after a business event at London’s Mansion House today.

“[The queen] did say that they would stand shoulder to shoulder with Ireland in commemorating the events, leading, of course, to a more prosperous future.”

Mr Kenny added: “As a Government we will work out what is the best thing to do about this.”

Asked about the decision of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, to attend the Windsor banquet, Mr Kenny said he had previously made the point Mr McGuinness should have “should have attended at the Dublin Castle event when the queen came in 2011”.

“That was equally as important and, in many ways, was absolutely momentous as it was the first visit for 100 years by a reigning monarch,” he said.

A number of people who lost family members or were injured in IRA attacks such as the Birmingham and Chelsea bombings protested over the fact Mr McGuinness was invited to the event.

Mr Kenny said he believed “you cannot have a block of politics anchored in the past that does not allow for the next generation to move ahead” and that the comments of Mr Higgins and the queen had endorsed the view.

“The job has to be finished by those who have responsibility - elected leadership in politics. While you never get everything you wish for in politics, obviously compromise and a working arrangement for that future is what is really important here,” he said, adding that traditions had to be respected.