President to meet Queen of England

The Queen of England is expected to meet President Mary McAleese in the North today.

The Queen of England is expected to meet President Mary McAleese in the North today.

She will also be greeted by Northern Ireland First Minister the Rev Ian Paisley as he says his final farewells before retiring in May.

There is speculation the Queen will also visit Dublin at some point during her three-day trip.

SDLP MP Eddie McGrady said he hoped there would not be protest marches should she go to Dublin.

“Hopefully we have matured in the Irish Republic and in Northern Ireland to the extent that we have an understanding and a tolerance,” he said.

“That predicates that we have a degree of cordiality that is a normal international procedure so why should it be any different in the circumstances?

“We have the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement approaching and we have all parties in the north, apart from the Democratic Unionist rump and the dissidents, working together.”

Today’s meeting will be the sixth between the Queen and President McAleese.

The Queen was last in the North in June 2007, at a party for the community and voluntary sector in Coleraine, Co Derry.

She was also in the North in October 2006 for the final review of the home battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment before they were disbanded last summer.

Last night she was at Hillsborough Castle meeting around 300 members and workers from the Territorial Army, during a reception to mark the group’s centenary.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the queen spoke with TA soldiers, their families and employees about their experiences in support operations around the world.

She met soldiers who had served in operations in Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over 100 TA soldiers have just arrived for a six month tour of duty in the North.

The Queen’s visit will end with a Maundy Service at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh.

Anglican Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper and other religious leaders are also expected to be present.

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