Royal visit points up political divide

Enda Kenny, leader of the largest opposition party in the 26 Counties, has said a visit to Ireland by an English monarch is “overdue”.

He was speaking while on the campaign trail in this month’s 26-County general election, which most commentators believe will see him become Taoiseach of a new Dublin government next month.

There is speculation in Dublin that the trip could take place within the next three months, possibly in May.

The last serving English monarch to visit the Irish capital was George V in 1911 - before the 26 Counties gained independence from Britain.

Speculation about the ‘Queen of England’ visiting Ireland has been front-page news in Dublin, with reports that a three-day trip in May is expected.

Mr Kenny said a visit by Elizabeth Windsor would show that Britain and Ireland had ‘grown up’.

Fine Gael is traditionally considered to be the most unionist-friendly party in the South, and has its origins in the pro-Treaty side of Ireland’s civil war.

“Many members of her family have been frequent visitors to Ireland,” he said.

“I actually think that this visit of the Queen would be very warmly received by the vast, vast majority of the Irish people - a declaration, a signature event, of the growing up of two countries and two peoples.”

However, Sinn Fein are opposed to a royal visit, with party president Gerry Adams saying: “I think it’s premature and too soon.” Mr Adams spoke as he campaigned in County Louth.

“I don’t think the queen should come,” he said. “There are hugely unresolved matters in terms of the British still claiming (the North) even though in terms of the Good Friday Agreement they have moved away from the Government of Ireland Act, it has been done away with not least because of Sinn Fein diligence during those negotiations -- I think it’s premature and too soon.

“When we have right across this island a dispensation based entirely upon the wishes of all of us who live here and no British jurisdiction at all, then that might be a better matter.”

Despite his comments, Mr Adams said it was important to continue to foster good relationships.

“They are after all our closest offshore island,” he added.


Meanwhile, loyalists ran amok through the leafy suburbs of Dublin 4 on Wednesday night following a soccer match in the new Aviva stadium.

The incidents took place before and after the Carling Home Nations Cup match between Scotland and ‘Northern Ireland’, which Scotland won 3-0.

Wrapped in Union Jack and Red Hand of Ulster flags, drunk loyalists down from the North urinated publically, sang ‘The Sash’ and ‘God Save The Queen’, beat Lambeg drums and tore down Sinn Fein election posters.

Vanloads of gardai wearing riot gear were called to Bath Avenue after dozens of complaints from concerned residents trapped in their homes, but they made no arrests.

The scenes were reminiscent of the 1995 mayhem when violent English fans forced the abandonment of an Ireland-England match.

They have also raised concerns over further matches involving ‘Northern Ireland’ at the stadium in May.

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