Irish Republican News · October 24, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Queen, Pope to mark peace with Irish trips

Dublin officials are on standby to prepare for a historic visit by the English Queen sometime next year, it has been confirmed.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he believed she would pay a formal visit to the 26 County state soon.

"We have had a number of visits from members of the royal family in recent years. It is a fact, I think, that the queen would like to come here.

"As things move on in Northern Ireland, and we make some further progress, I think that will happen too. But it is not imminent," said Mr Ahern.

He added he had no knowledge of a mooted visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland.

"Obviously, we would welcome a papal visit," the Taoiseach said.

A number of reports suggested the Pope is set to make a visit to the North next spring provided the peace process remains in place.

Church and diplomatic sources are said to have confirmed that Pope Benedict would "like to complete" the 1979 pastoral visit to Ireland of the late John Paul II.

For security reasons the previous Pope was prevented from travelling north of the border, where threats had been made by unionist paramilitaries.

Rising expectations of a spring Papal visit -- probably to Armagh, the traditional ecclesiastical capital of All Ireland -- have been boosted by the appointment as cardinal last week of the Archbishop of Armagh Sean Brady.

In March President McAleese had a private audience with Pope Benedict and extended an invitation to come to Ireland.

"We would do everything possible to make it a very successful one," she told the Pontiff.

In response, the Pope said that he would see if it was possible.

Cathleen Knowles McGuirk, Vice-President, Republican Sinn Féin said in a statement that republicans throughout Ireland were strongly opposed to the impending visit of the English queen and would protest at this "extravagant display of pomp and wealth".

"But not alone for these reasons," she said. "Queen Elizabeth saw fit to award an OBE to Colonel Derek Wilford, Officer Commanding the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday in Derry when they shot dead 14 unarmed civilians.

"Not exactly an inspiring role model for women? It matters not a whit that some of those armed forces are leaving Irish soil because their place will be taken by MI5 who are deeply embedded here.

"There remains one huge obstacle to reconciliation between us and Britain and that obstacle is Partition. Part of the process of putting the past behind us and moving forward would be the removal of the illegal and unjust border that divides our country and our people.

"Have the courage Elizabeth Windsor and begin the process of handing back what has never belonged to you - the Six northeastern Counties. That would indeed be called a 'historic event'".

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© 2007 Irish Republican News