Diplomatic and Military Affairs

UK queen arrives in Dublin

Updated: 2011-05-18 07:49

By Carmel Crimmins and Padraic Halpin (China Daily)

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 UK queen arrives in Dublin

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II talks with Irish President Mary McAleese during welcoming ceremonies at Aras An Uachtarain, the Irish president's residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin, on Tuesday. John Stillwell-Pa / Associated Press

Visit comes after security officials found makeshift bomb on a bus

DUBLIN - Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrived in Dublin on Tuesday for a historic state visit steeped in symbolism and surrounded by security after a makeshift bomb was found, highlighting the lingering hostility of a small minority.

The visit, the first by a British monarch since Ireland won independence from London in 1921, is designed to show how warm neighborly relations have replaced centuries of animosity, and the queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, appeared unperturbed by the bomb alert.

The monarch, dressed in an emerald green coat and matching hat, was greeted by Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, a military air field named after a British diplomat executed in 1916 for aiding the Irish nationalist cause.

She met Ireland's President Mary McAleese, a Catholic from Northern Ireland and a champion of better relations between the two countries, for a ceremonial welcome followed by a lunch of roast turbot and boxty, a traditional Irish potato cake.

Standing before the president's house, the former residence of the viceroys who oversaw British rule in Ireland, the queen reviewed a guard of honor and was given a 21-gun salute.

In an overcast capital, local people shook their heads in disgust at the discovery of a bomb in the luggage compartment of a bus headed for Dublin.

"It's bad. They are dragging us into the dark ages," said Tom O'Neill, a 34-year-old salesman. "There are some people in Ireland who have to get over the whole English thing. They are our neighbors."

Militant nationalists opposed to British control of Northern Ireland are suspected of planting the device, which was destroyed in a controlled explosion by the army in Maynooth, 25 kilometers from Dublin, after a telephone warning to police.

Ireland is mounting its biggest ever security operation for the four-day visit and the arrival of US President Barack Obama two days later.

Streets across the capital were cordoned off, rows of barriers erected and some 4,000 police, backed up by 2,000 soldiers, patrolled the city center. Thousands of manholes have been sealed and suspected dissidents arrested and questioned.

Troubled past

Peace in Northern Ireland after decades of conflict has paved the way for the queen's four-day stay, but there will be constant reminders of a violent past during her visit.

Her arrival coincides with the 37th anniversary of bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, the single bloodiest day in a three-decade sectarian battle over Northern Ireland.

Relatives will lay a wreath at the site of one of the bombings in Dublin shortly before Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh's arrival.

Police in Northern Ireland are on full alert against attempts by dissident republicans to grab headlines during the queen's visit. They said a bus and a van were hijacked and set on fire by armed men in Londonderry on Monday night.

The monarch's visit is about reconciliation and emphasizing the strong bond, built on generations of Irish emigration, that existed between the two countries even before a 1998 deal brought peace to Northern Ireland.

It is estimated that nearly one in 10 British people have an Irish grandparent, entitling them to citizenship. Irish people are avid followers of British soccer clubs and soap operas. The nation of around 4.5 million people is the biggest overseas market for British clothing, food and drink.



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