News / Europe

Britain Hosts First State Visit of Irish President

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins laughs with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as they view items of Irish interest extracted from the Royal Collection and displayed in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, April 8, 2014.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins laughs with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as they view items of Irish interest extracted from the Royal Collection and displayed in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, April 8, 2014.
Reuters
President Michael Higgins became the first Irish head of state on Tuesday to make a state visit to Britain, crowning a big improvement in historically fraught relations between Dublin and its former colonial master.

Clashes over British-ruled Northern Ireland saw more than 3,600 killed from the 1960s onward until a 1998 peace deal largely ended the conflict between Catholic groups wanting the province to become part of the Irish republic and Protestant groups determined to keep it within the United Kingdom.

Addressing both houses of Britain's parliament on Tuesday, a privilege only accorded to a few foreign leaders including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, Higgins described that 1998 agreement as a key milestone but said there was more to be done.

"Our two countries can take immense pride in the progress of the cause of peace in Northern Ireland. But of course there is still a road to be traveled - the road of a lasting and creative reconciliation," Higgins said during his speech to lawmakers in parliament's ornate Royal Gallery.

"Our two governments have a shared responsibility to encourage and support those who need to complete the journey of making peace permanent and constructive, enduring."

Despite being at peace, Northern Ireland remains deeply divided and still sees sporadic outbreaks of violence.

On Monday, a former British government minister said an amnesty should be offered to all those involved in the 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland in order to help the province move on from its past.

Higgins, who said ties between Ireland and Britain were now "strong and resolute", is expected to discuss Northern Ireland during a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday.

His trip follows a historic visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth to the Irish republic in 2011, the first by a British monarch since Dublin won its independence from London in 1921.

In a sign of how far relations have progressed, former Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla chief Martin McGuinness will join Higgins at many events, including a banquet to be hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle outside London on Tuesday.

McGuinness, now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, rejected invitations to attend events during the queen's 2011 visit but shook her hand in Belfast in 2012 in a milestone which helped draw a line under the conflict.

Earlier on Tuesday, 72-year-old Higgins, whose office is largely ceremonial, arrived for lunch at Windsor Castle with the 87-year-old queen in a horse-drawn carriage as a guard of honor played the British and Irish national anthems.

His four-day visit will include events to highlight the deep economic, political and cultural ties between the two countries. His trip will also take in Oxford, Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-on-Avon and the city of Coventry.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid