History is important, but reconciliation is more so. This was the defining sentiment of the visit of Britain’s Prince Charles to Ireland.
The Prince of Wales and the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald echoed the same opinion as they shared a stage at the British Ambassador’s Irish residence yesterday.
“In these challenging times it is more important than ever that we strengthen the connections between us and forge new ones wherever we can,” said Charles.
He had been speaking about his visit to Glasnevin Cemetery earlier in the day, describing how he was “deeply moved” by this, the “most memorable moment” of his four-day visit.
“It is so very important that we are able to come together to honour the memory of so many men and women, from all sides, whose sacrifice shaped our shared history.
“Everywhere we have been, as on our previous visits, ladies and gentlemen, I have been so struck by the strength of the connection between our people and between our economies and these bonds shape our shared prosperity and security and they are everywhere you look,” he said.
The prince then spoke of a conversation he had with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at lunchtime that day.
“The Taoiseach told me earlier today that €1.2bn worth of trade crosses the Irish Sea every single week and I am also told that there are 2m people in Britain who claim Irish lineage. I suspect the real number may be even higher still.
“What I do know for certain is that in the United Kingdom, Irish people make such an extraordinary and essential contribution to so many parts of our society and our economy,” he said.
Ms Fitzgerald also reflected on the bond that exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“It is a great sign of the strength of the relationship between our two countries that you have now become regular visitors here,” she said.
“Your Royal Highness’ visit to Glasnevin this morning is an important gesture of respect to the diverse narratives of the past.
“In a world loud with controversy and change, respect, kindness, and generosity still matter, still add up for how we should be accounted for,” she added.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was in attendance at the British Ambassador’s residence and said that this visit was about reconciliation.
“This visit, like the last visit, was about reconciliation,” he said.
Mr Adams then stated that the future is not written and therefore, peaceful progress was essential.
“The history is the history and it’s really, really important, but the future hasn’t been written and we need to write the future and it needs to be, particularly in these Brexit days, it needs to be a history which is based upon the best we can possibly get for all the people of this island,” he said.
“One of the key things about this visit, and visits like this, is that we are showing a way to keep moving forward in a peaceful way, a harmonious way, a way that brings people together,” he added.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved