IRELAND’S reputation abroad has been “rebuilt” this week with the visit of Queen Elizabeth, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore.
Images of the visit have been beamed all over the world, shining a more positive light on the country, whose reputation has been battered in recent years.
The Labour leader said the world was told that “here is a country that is doing things very well, that is coping with its difficulties, that’s struggling with its difficulties but that’s working through them”.
He added: “We’ve come through three years where the stories coming out about Ireland abroad were all negative.”
But a message has now been sent out that Ireland is “open for business, that it’s trading and that it has this mature relationship with its nearest neighbour.
“It is a good week for Ireland internationally.”
It came as a surprise to everyone that the Queen used some words of Irish at the start of her speech in Dublin Castle on Wednesday night.
But Mr Gilmore revealed that British Prime Minister David Cameron had told him and Taoiseach Enda Kenny that “there were going to be some surprises and it was going to go a bit further than some people had anticipated”.
The foreign minister added that the reconciliatory speeches by both the Queen and President Mary McAleese “marked a new level of respect between the two states”.
Although the Government did not make any progress during the week in securing the release of British intelligence files on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, Mr Gilmore pledged it will continue to pursue the issue.
“The British side say there are legal difficulties in releasing some of these files. But we’re going to continue working on this,” he told RTÉ radio.
He said Sinn Féin may have “misjudged the mood of the public” on the Queen’s visit by the party’s refusal to attend a number of events, including the Dublin Castle speech.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that while her expression of sympathy was “sincere”, her words of reconciliation were a “gross understatement”.
In an interview on the BBC, he said relations between the two states would not be “normalised to the fullest extent while Ireland remains partitioned”.
He said the royal visit was “another step in the journey” and “a page in a book — and we need to write the next page and the next page and keep moving the process on.”
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