Proposal for St Patrick’s Day greeting from queen to Irish president rejected

Unionist sensitivity and question over name of country raised

The president Mary Robinson with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in 1993. Photograph: Eric Luke

The president Mary Robinson with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in 1993. Photograph: Eric Luke

A proposal by a senior Northern Ireland Office official that the British monarch might mark the ending of violence in the North after the 1994 ceasefires by sending a cordial message to then president Mary Robinson to mark St Patrick’s Day was rejected on grounds of unionist sensitivity. This is revealed by previously confidential files released on Friday by the Public Record Office in Belfast.

The issue was first raised on March 1st, 1995 when Donald Lamont, an official in the Republic of Ireland section of the NIO, suggested in a note to a colleague, J Dew that such greetings from Queen Elizabeth II to foreign heads of state was the norm: “As you know, I intend to recommend that the Queen this year diverts from practice whereby she has sent no message of congratulations to the Irish President on the Republic’s National Day”.

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