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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid