THE visit of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth marks the start of “a new era” according to the Taoiseach, who said he intends to greet her in a normal but proper fashion.
Enda Kenny said the €20 million security operation for the four-day visit starting tomorrow is “an investment” in future tourism, trade and relations between both countries.
The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, confirmed armed British police will patrol Irish streets saying her department will “be working with the Gardaí and with the Irish Government about what is appropriate.”
There are fears dissident republicans might target the visit of the queen and her husband Philip to Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork.
Ms May said: “As with the queen’s visit everywhere, of course there are always security issues around that,” adding that “the garda are well used to dealing with visits of dignitaries to Ireland so of course they will be putting appropriate security arrangements in place.”
Mr Kenny said the visit will symbolise ” a healing of the past and a building of the future”.
He expressed confidence in the security operation which was “not just a requirement but an investment in terms of presenting Ireland in a global sense”.
Asked on Sky News yesterday if he would bow to the queen, Mr Kenny was vague but played down the symbolism of any such gesture.
“There is a very normal way of greeting the head of state from Great Britain and I intend to do that in proper fashion,” he said. “This is a normal greeting of a visitor to our country.”
Asked if it would be a personally proud moment for him to meet the queen, he pointed out that the invitation had been issued by President Mary McAleese, who will formally welcome the monarch at Áras an Uachtaráin.
The Northern Secretary Owen Paterson said he was confident any security threats will be dealt with: “I have great confidence in the professionalism of the PSNI and the Garda to take all the necessary measures to ensure this visit will be a huge success.
“I think this will be a springboard to even better things in the future.”
Queen Elizabeth is the first monarch to visit the Republic since independence. The last visit of a British monarch was King George in 1911.
Mr Kenny said: “It symbolises a healing of the past, a recognition of two countries having grown up together and facing a future out of respect and co-operation. It is an international symbol of very powerful significance.”
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