Published Monday, 06 February 2012
UUP leader Tom Elliott told the Assembly the Republic should join Commonwealth (© UTV)
Mr Elliott referred to the Queen's visit to the Republic last year, in which she laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance, which was seen as a pivotal moment in British-Irish relations.
He added that the visit suggested a new relationship between two states that are "so close geographically but are maybe so apart in other circumstances".
"It may actually encourage the Republic of Ireland to look at the possibility to rejoin the Commonwealth once again," he told MLAs.
It was the first visit to Ireland by a British monarch since 1922 and First Minister Peter Robinson, who laid the motion, recognised the Queen's service during her 60 years on the throne.
"I am convinced that everyone in Northern Ireland will respect the significant role played by Her Majesty the Queen over such a significant period of time.
"She has brought a wise head to difficult situations, always there to give sound counsel to those who have audiences with her," he said.
Although some Sinn Féin MLAs did attend the motion, they were the only party not to take part, a silence described as "stony and churlish" by TUV MLA Jim Allister.
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell adding to the tributes.
"We all must recognise that our [image] of ourselves and of our future changes in time and we hope and believe that that is for the better.
"The visit of Queen Elizabeth the second to Dublin and the work of President McAleese was another important step forward in a process of reconciliation between the peoples of these islands," said Dr McDonnell
The Republic left the Commonwealth in 1949 and since then has sought to align itself to Europe, embracing the Common Market in a fashion aimed at reducing Ireland's reliance on Britain. The UK is still the country's major trade partner.
It is expected the Queen will visit Northern Ireland later this year during the summer as part of the Jubilee celebrations.
© UTV News