Patterson: Queen's visit a 'springboard' to better things

Patterson: Queen's visit a 'springboard' to better things

Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Owen Patterson has said the Queen's visit to Ireland is a "springboard" to even better relations.

Mr Patterson said Ireland and the UK already have close ties but this visit will make the relations even stronger.

Mr Patterson said: "I think six million people in Britain have an Irish grandparent. They are an immensely important trading partner, we sell more to Ireland than we sell to China, India, Brazil and Russia combined and we have three million people visit each country, going each way."

He said it is a huge opportunity for both countries.

"I think this is really about looking into the future, the fact that we now have a normal and really successful relationship and I think this will be a springboard to even better things in the future."

A select number of people will get to meet the Queen personally during her four-day stay.

Former Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews says it's "green jersey time" and a "hugely important time in the history of Ireland and England".

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