Security tight as queen visits North


QUEEN ELIZABETH has begun a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

Accompanied by Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the queen landed at George Best Belfast City Airport yesterday where she was greeted by Northern Secretary Owen Paterson and Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast Dame Mary Peters. She then began a series of engagements in Belfast and Hillsborough, Co Down.

Security for the visit was especially tight and, with arrangements kept secret, no one appeared on the streets to watch the motorcade as it made its way to the studios of UTV in south Belfast for the first engagement.

UTV is celebrating 50 years in broadcasting and the station is also launching its high definition (HD) service. The queen was given a tour of the studios before being invited by UTV chairman John B McGuckian to launch the new HD channel.

Mr McGuckian said: “Today represents a major milestone in UTV’s history and once again we are leading the way by becoming the first broadcaster on the island of Ireland to launch HD television.”

The queen, who last visited the North in May 2009, also met Lord Mayor of Belfast Patrick Convery, Sheriff for the County Borough of Belfast Cllr Christopher Stalford and chief executive of Belfast City Council Peter McNaney. The queen and Prince Phillip also met UTV group chief executive John McCann and managing director Michael Wilson, along with executive producer Julie O’Connor, editor of news and sport Chris Hagan and sport and other colleagues working for UTV’s news output for TV, radio and online.

Later, the queen and her husband were guests of honour at a lunch hosted by Mr McGuckian with invited guests from the business sector.

Afterwards the queen left for Hillsborough Castle where, as patron of Action for Children, she appeared at a reception to celebrate the Northern Ireland region’s 10th anniversary.

She also held private meetings with Mr Paterson and First Minister Peter Robinson.

Last night the queen appeared at a formal dinner with representatives of the local business community.