THE queen was delighted by the positive and warm response she received on her arrival in Ireland on the first day of her state visit, according to the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
The former Conservative party leader, who accompanied the royal party on the flight from London, said the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, had been looking forward to their visit.
“They have been delighted today by the warmth of the welcome from the President, the ministers and very much indeed from the people of Ireland,” said Mr Hague.
He said he was struck by the number of people out on the streets of Dublin waving and cheering at the royal party as they travelled through the city. “It showed a very strong and warm welcome,” he added.
Mr Hague remarked that the visit represented “animportant moment in British-Irish history”, and marked a transformation in the relationship between the two countries, having built on the political progress made in the North in recent years.
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin Castle, Mr Hague said there was no danger of misusing the word “historic” to describe yesterday’s events.
He claimed the state visit should be accorded a “particularly special” significance in the context of the 300 overseas visits undertaken by the queen during her reign.
Asked for his response to calls by the families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the 37th anniversary of which was also marked yesterday, for secret British government files relating to the incident to be released, Mr Hague said there were “legal constraints” surrounding the issue.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, described the first state visit by a British monarch to the Republic as “a hugely important day in the relationships between Ireland and Britain”.
“It is a day when we are, in many ways, coming to terms with the very complex history that has characterised relations between Ireland and Britain,” said Mr Gilmore.
The Tánaiste said the royal visit also signalled that it was time to move on from “the pages of history” to a relationship of two sovereign states working together on issues they had in common, for the mutual benefit of their respective populations.
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