Hopes of Dublin visit by Queen

 

SDLP AND unionist representatives are hopeful that a visit by Prince Charles to a restored Catholic church in Belfast will help set the tone for an expected visit by Queen Elizabeth to Dublin.

Prince Charles was welcomed at St Malachy’s Church in the Markets area of the city by First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, SDLP Lord Mayor Pat Convery and SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell, the Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor and local Catholic clergy.

The 19th-century church, designed by Waterford architect Thomas Jackson, was badly damaged by German Luftwaffe bombers during the Belfast blitz in 1941. However it has been restored under at £3.6 million four-year programme.

Mr Robinson said it was not his first time in St Malachy’s, adding that he hoped the visit could help enable a visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic later this year.

Dr McDonnell said that the visit was “a milestone” which he hoped would pave the way for a royal visit to Dublin.

“Charles was extremely well received – he was very cordial and gracious.

“I think it shows that the turbulent past is passed and we are moving on.”

He added: “I see a lot of this in the context of normalising relations between Britain and Ireland. I welcome that.”