Queen to begin historic State visit to the Republic

Gardai search pedestrians at security barriers yesterday in preparation for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth in Dublin city centre.Photograph: Eric Luke
Gardai search pedestrians at security barriers yesterday in preparation for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth in Dublin city centre.Photograph: Eric Luke

STEPHEN COLLINS and CONOR LALLY

Queen Elizabeth II will arrive in Baldonnel at noon today to begin a historic four-day State visit to the Republic. It will be the first visit in 100 years by a reigning British monarch.
President Mary McAleese has described it as an “extraordinary moment” in Irish history that personified the determination in both countries to forge a better future.
“I think it is an extraordinary moment in Irish history, a phenomenal sign of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome on to Irish soil Her Majesty the Queen, the head of state of our immediate next-door neighbours, the people with whom we are forging a new future, a future very, very different from the past, on very different terms from the past.
“I think that visit will send the message that we are, both jurisdictions, determined to make the future a much, much better place,” said the President.
British prime minister David Cameron described the visit as “a huge step forward” following the settling of a lot of the political issues and difficulties that had divided the two countries. He said the new relationship enabled “the natural friendship we have for each other” to come out.

The Queen will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin where she will receive a ceremonial welcome and meet President McAleese. Later she will lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance and then visit Trinity College to view the Book of Kells before going to Farmleigh, where she will stay for the duration of her visit.

Tomorrow she will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings and lay a wreath at the Irish War Memorial in Islandbridge.

Later she will visit Croke Park and attend a State dinner in Dublin Castle hosted by President McAleese.

On Thursday the Queen will visit the National Stud and the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud. Later she will attend a celebration at the national convention centre in Dublin hosted by the British embassy. On Friday she will visit the Rock of Cashel and Coolmore Stud before heading to Cork for her final engagements.

Thousands of gardaí have been deployed in Dublin. Hundreds of gardaí in riot gear will be on standby in the event any protest against the Queen’s visit descends into rioting.

The Army has deployed armed troops to patrol the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin and Farmleigh. A no-fly zone will apply for short periods in the skies when the Queen is moving around.

The biggest threat to security is from dissident republicans. Over 10,000 gardaí and troops are involved in the security operation, the biggest in the history of the State.

Streets in central London were closed off for a number of hours yesterday while bomb disposal experts destroyed a suspect suitcase, less than 12 hours after a bomb threat by dissident republicans.

Members of the public have been urged to use public transport where possible today in Dublin as widespread traffic restrictions are in place.


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