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Queen begins first state visit to Republic of Ireland

Queen begins first state visit to Republic of Ireland

The Queen has been welcomed on her first visit to the Republic of Ireland by President Mary McAleese.

After flying into Baldonnel military airbase, outside Dublin, for the four-day visit, the Queen emerged wearing a symbolic green coat and hat.

One of the Republic's biggest ever security operations is in place, amid a rise in dissident republican violence.

A pipe bomb found on a passenger bus bound for Dublin on Monday was made safe by an Irish army team.

At Baldonnel airbase, the royals were greeted by an Irish Air Corps guard of honour and presented with flowers by a south Dublin schoolgirl, eight-year-old Rachel Fox.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were then escorted to Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the Irish president in Dublin's Phoenix Park. The visit is taking place following Mrs McAleese's invitation.

The Queen shook hands with Mrs McAleese at the front of the residence before moving inside to meet the Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny.

The Irish and Union flags flew side by side at the gates to the building, where both countries' national anthems were played.

A 21-gun salute and an Air Corps flypast also greeted the Queen's arrival.

King George V was the last reigning monarch to visit the country, in 1911, when what is now the Republic was then part of the UK.

The Queen dressed in Irish green and finally set foot on Irish soil at 1203 BST.

It was one small step for the Queen - one huge moment in British-Irish history.

It is 100 years since a British monarch has been in Ireland. Many thought a king or queen would never be welcomed back.

Instead, Ireland rolled out the red carpet for her nearest neighbour.

Whatever the security concerns, this has been a landmark moment in Dublin. In truth, it's one that most people living in Ireland today thought they would never see.

Ahead of the visit, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: "One hundred years on from the last time a British monarch visited Ireland, I think there is a great sense of history and occasion."

He added: "I think the real effect... will be a marker that just as we are solving some of the problems there have been between us in the past, just as we are helping each other through these difficult economic times, now is a great moment for people in Britain and people in Ireland to remember what it is we share."

Mr Cameron will join the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for part of their trip on Wednesday, while Foreign Secretary William Hague is following the usual practice of accompanying the royals throughout their visit.

The Queen will attend events at Trinity College Dublin, the Gardens of Remembrance, the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge and Croke Park stadium.

Croke Park is the home of Gaelic games where in 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, British forces fired into the crowd at a football match, killing 14 spectators and players.

The Queen is also to make a speech at a state dinner at Dublin Castle.

There are plans for the Queen and Prince Philip to visit the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, as well as the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary and a technology park in Cork.

Controlled explosion

The bomb on the bus was found in a holdall in the luggage compartment on Monday night during a check in Maynooth, County Kildare, to the west of Dublin.

Continue reading the main story

"Start Quote

The Irish president's dressed in pink. No clash. Must have checked in advance"

End Quote Peter Hunt Royal correspondent, BBC News

About 30 people who were on board the bus were taken off and transported to Dublin in another vehicle.

The device was later made safe in a controlled explosion carried out by an Irish army bomb disposal team.

The coded bomb threat relating to London, which was received on Sunday, was the first issued by Irish dissidents outside Northern Ireland in 10 years, officials said.

However, the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain remains unchanged at substantial. In Northern Ireland it is severe.

The cost of the security operation has been estimated at 30 million euros (£26m), with measures including:

  • Deployment of more than 6,000 Irish police and Defence Forces personnel onto the streets of Dublin
  • Increased surveillance of known republican dissidents
  • A ring of steel, comprising 25 miles of crowd-control barriers, installed around the Irish capital
  • Checking of thousands of manhole covers and lamp-posts, and parking bans imposed on 30 city centre streets

Posted on Tuesday 17th May 2011

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