“the crowning moment in the peace process”?

Both Buckingham Palace and the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, have announced the itinerary for the State visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland, from Tuesday 17th to Friday 20th May.  The first by a UK monarch since 1911.

The programme will include a formal welcome by President McAleese at áras an Uachtaráin, a ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance, a courtesy call on the Taoiseach at Government Buildings and a State dinner in Dublin Castle, at which both The Queen and the President will deliver speeches.

The programme will also include events at Trinity College Dublin, at the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, at the Guinness Storehouse and at Croke Park.

A return event celebrating The Queen’s visit will be hosted by the Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Ireland.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will also visit the Irish National Stud in Kildare as well as Cashel in County Tipperary, and Cork.

There’s been some predictable local reactions from some.  Although there’s a differently worded reaction, than the one the BBC offer, from Gerry Adams, TD, on the Sinn Féin website…  [Adds – I should note that the reactions quoted by the BBC are from March when the visit was initially announced.  Still, interesting that Sinn Féin are adopting a noticeably harder line/tone now.]

And this from the GAA

The GAA is pleased to have been asked to receive Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by President McAleese, at our headquarters in Croke Park and to showcase our stadium and facilities to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their accompanying party. We believe that this request reflects and acknowledges the special place of the GAA in the life and history of the nation.

We are confident that this historic visit to Croke Park will be welcomed by those who play, administer and support our games, at home and abroad, including of course throughout Britain. We hope also that it will encourage a greater interest and participation in our games by our fellow Irishmen and women of the Unionist tradition.

The visit to Croke Park will provide the Uachtarán of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael with the opportunity to convey to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh a sense of the history and values of the Gaelic Athletic Association, and its unique and leading place in Irish society.

In the best traditions of our Association, we will extend a warm welcome to Croke Park – a Céad Míle Fáilte – to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by the President and Dr. McAleese.

But perhaps the earlier noted political reactions have to do with the symbolic end of the limited “politics of peace” stage of our current ‘indigenous’ arrangements – as the Guardian’s Wintour and Watt blog notes
A visit by the Queen to the Irish Republic has always been seen (excuse the pun) as the crowning moment in the peace process that sets the seal on the full normalisation in relations between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.

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