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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs