Queen Elizabeth visit confirmed


President Mary McAleese has announced Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has accepted an invitation to visit the Republic later this year.

While the dates of the visit and the programme have yet to be announced by the Áras and Buckingham Palace, it is expected to take place over three days in May.

In a brief statement, the Government said it welcomed the acceptance of the invitation. “The visit will mark a further improvement in the very good relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom.”

A number of sources said earlier this month the queen would make a “major” speech in Dublin Castle on relations between the countries.

The queen will be accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, the first to the Republic by a reigning British monarch.

British Ambassador Julian King said the queen and her husband were “very much looking forward to their visit" to Ireland.

“The invitation symbolises how far the relationship between the two countries has come in recent years; the strength of our economic and political ties; and the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland,” he said. “The visit will provide an excellent opportunity to celebrate this, and build on the rich and varied links that exist across these islands.”

The invitation was strongly backed by President McAleese, who leaves office later this year.

The Taoiseach began the process of inviting the queen when he met British prime minister David Cameron in Downing Street last June.

The timing of the visit has been complicated by the wedding of Prince Charles’s son, Prince William, to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29th, while there has been speculation the queen and Prince Philip will visit Canada in June.

The queen's decision to visit the country has been welcomed by the outgoing Government which said it would mark a futher improvement in the relations between Ireland and Britain.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also welcomed confirmation of the visit.

"This State visit is in many ways a further milestone in the transformation of relationships between our countries that has been ongoing for many years and will act as another step in the journey of reconciliation," he said.

" This visit is an endorsement of the peace strategy pursued by Irish and British Governments over a number of decades and will be a catalyst for further enhancements in North/South and East/West co-operation, to the economic, social and cultural benefit of all," he added.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the visit was "premature"

“As Republicans Sinn Féin 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," he said.