Queen celebrates peace with Irish President

Published Thursday, 07 May 2009
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The Queen and Irish President Mary McAleese have met at Hillsborough Castle.

The two heads of state had 20 minutes of private talks before attending a celebration of the 30th anniversary of cross-border cooperation and peace-building by the Co-operation Ireland charity of which they are joint patrons.

After they last met at Queen's University in March last year, the President said a visit to the Irish Republic by the Queen had moved significantly closer but would not happen until the completion of devolution in Northern Ireland.

The prospect of a Dublin visit by the Queen was alluded to by Co-operation Ireland chairman Christopher Moran at a reception in a rain-lashed marquee in the castle grounds.

He thanked the two heads of state for their patronage and for attending the anniversary celebrations.

He added: "Co-operation Ireland hope that when the time is right we will have the occasion to celebrate again in your presence in Dublin."

The Priests

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the President and her husband, Dr Martin McAleese, were entertained by Northern Ireland's international singing sensation The Priests and the award-winning Grosvenor Grammar Chamber Choir of Belfast.

The Co Antrim parish priests, brothers Eugene and Martin O'Hagan and life-long friend Father David Delargy, sang Danny Boy and An Irish Blessing - which they said was suitable for the occasion as it was written by an Englishman.

The Priests cut short a trip to Australia to fly back and perform, but said they had been thrilled to do so.

Father Eugene said: "Everybody is nervous about singing at the best of times in front of an audience, but to have both Her Majesty the Queen, the President Mrs McAleese, the Duke of Edinburgh, Dr McAleese and the Secretary of State in the audience was absolutely overwhelming."

The Queen also had a brief private talk at Hillsborough, prior to the reception, with First Minister Peter Robinson.

© Press Association
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