Ambassador keeps ‘mum’ about Queen’s Irish visit

BRITISH ambassador Julian King yesterday remained ‘mum’ about the Queen’s likely visit to Ireland.

But both governments, along with President Mary McAleese and the Queen herself, were all committed to the invitation to visit.

“The (British) government,” he said, “was talking to the Palace about how best to take that forward.”

He was very encouraged by the response among the public and the British embassy, it emerged, had received a lot of letters from around the country, inviting the Queen to visit.

However, it would not be possible for the Queen to visit every place and not even every place with a royal link, Mr King believed.

The ambassador, on a visit to the historic Muckross House in Killarney yesterday, stressed the strong commercial links between Britain and Ireland and, in particular, the potential of more British tourists to provide economic growth in Ireland.

But he declined to discuss Ireland’s invitation to the Queen.

Mr King was speaking to reporters in the Edwardian board room of the State- owned Muckross House, on his first official visit to Kerry.

At a relaxed and informal press meeting, he insisted on being called “Julian”.

Mr King had accepted an invitation from the chairman of the board of trustees Marcus Treacy, who is also a director of Killarney Golf and Fishing club, to visit the house.

Last night, before meeting with tourism figures, he accepted an invitation to become honorary ambassador for Kerry tourism.

Today he will visit the 3 Irish Open.

His appointment as British ambassador to Ireland came against a background of tough economic times for both countries, Mr King said.

There were “huge commercial links” between the two countries, he said.

As well as trade and tourism the financial service links were enormous, with banks operating between both jurisdictions. There were some 43,000 Irish directors of British companies, more than any other nationality.

It was important for “both economies” that the economic links were strengthened, he said.

Energy supply, climate and so on were best tackled together by both countries, the ambassador suggested.

“Right now there is a potential area of the economy we should be focusing on and that is tourism,” Mr King said.

The message had to go out in Britain about increasingly good value, about the variety and quality of what was on offer in Ireland, said Mr King.

The 3 Irish Open, he said, was providing a “fantastic platform” for Killarney and it needed to be built upon.

Pressed continuously about the possibility of a visit by the Queen to Killarney and to Muckross House — which had hosted a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 — Mr King said the royal visit was “one important visitor”.

There were a million extra potential visitors that could also be attracted, he said.


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