Governments plan British queen’s first visit to Ireland

The Irish and British Governments are planning the queen of England’s first state visit to Ireland before the end of next year, it was revealed tonight.

After a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he wanted to see the official engagement before President Mary McAleese leaves office.

Mr. Cowen said there was now no obstacle in the way of Queen Elizabeth coming to Ireland.

“I think that would be a good development,” the Taoiseach said.

“I think also that the importance of an exchange of state visits says a lot about the modern bilateral relationships we now have.

“We have started a process between both the Prime Ministers’ offices whereby we can look at this prospect.

“I would like to see this happening during the tenure of our own President (McAleese).”

Mr. Cowen, who met Mr. Cameron for talks in Downing Street, said a state visit by the queen, and a return trip to Britain by an Irish President, would be part of the normal courtesies enjoyed by friendly, neighboring states.

President McAleese, who is known to have worked behind-the-scenes for a bridge-building visit, suggested the wheels were firmly in motion for the symbolic event next year.

“Following today’s meeting between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Cameron in London, President McAleese looks forward to the prospect of a visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth in the near future,” said her spokeswoman.

President McAleese is to leave office after a second seven-year term in November 2011.

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