Britain and Ireland bury the hatchet

Irish president with the Queen

The bitter politics of Ireland had painful echoes for sectarianism in Australia. Now, in an historic pivot, the Queen has welcomed the first-ever State visit from an Irish President. Once unthinkable - and for some still too soon - the event is a remarkable act of reconciliation.

- RTE

In her speech at Windsor Castle during President Michael Higgins' State visit, Queen Elizabeth II said that Britain and Ireland shall 'no longer allow our past to ensnare our future.'

The goal of modern British-Irish relations can be 'simply stated,' she said. 'It is that we, who inhabit these islands, should live together as neighbours and friends. Respectful of each other's nationhood, sovereignty and traditions. Cooperating to our mutual benefit. At ease in each other's company.

'After so much chequered history, the avoidable and regrettable pain of which is still felt by many of us, this goal is now within reach.'

President Higgins said Ireland and Britain 'live in the shadow and the shelter of each other' and have gained strength from one another.'

He continued: 'While we grieve together for lost lives, we will not let any painful aspect of our shared history deflect us from crafting a future of hope,' he said.

The Queen also said that as the two nations 'enter a period of historical resonance, it is right to look back in remembrance.'

She said that her government and her family woudl stand by Ireland 'throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.'

The Queen said Britain had been 'hugely enriched by the migration of Irishmen and women to these shores.'

'And yet, over the years, many Irish migrants to Britain encountered discrimination and a lack of appreciation.

'Happily, those days are now behind us...'

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were also among the 160 guests from the worlds of entertainment, arts and politics present.

In an historic address to both houses of the British Parliament, the President said relations between the two islands had achieved a great warmth. However, there is still a road to be travelled, he said, the road of lasting and creative reconciliation.

IMAGE: The Queen and the Irish President Michael D Higgins share a joke at a royal reception at Windsor Castle, source Mail Online

READ FULL ARTICLE: Irish and British 'becoming good and dependable neighbours' (RTE)

WATCH: 

Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, addresses Parliament (UK Parliament/YouTube)

Irish President Michael D Higgins in historic UK visit (BBC)

MORE:

Cardinal Brady congratulates President Higgins on a successful State visit (Irish Catholic Bishops Conference)

Worthy defender of faith (The Tablet)

Martin McGuinness toasts the Queen at historic state banquet for Irish President Michael D Higgins (The Belfast Telegraph)

Irish president talks of lasting reconciliation in historic speech (The Guardian)

Queen hosts historic dinner for President Higgins (The Irish Echo)

Britain and Ireland: a shared future (The Canberra Times)

Martin McGuinness will be a special guest of Queen at State banquet (The Irish Independent)

RELATED:

British royal set to attend 1916 ceremonies (The Irish Times)

Good Friday Agreement review under way (Mail Online)

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