Free party at Stormont for Queen's visit
More than 10,000 people from across Northern Ireland will get to take part in a huge event at Stormont to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, during the Queen's visit later this month.
Friday, 08 June 2012
The Northern Ireland Office has announced that the Stormont estate will host the celebrations on 27 June.
Representatives from a multitude of groups - including youth organisations, the emergency services, ex-service associations, government departments, local councils, health trusts, education and library boards - have already been invited.
But around 10,000 free tickets will also be made available to the public, with details of how to apply set to be released next week.
The Queen will visit Northern Ireland for two days as part of her Jubilee tour of the UK.
It is widely expected that another little piece of history could be written, with speculation rife that deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will become the first republican leader to shake hands with the Queen.
As this will be an iconic, unprecedented and historic Royal occasion we expect there will be exceptional demand for tickets.
First Minister Peter Robinson
Buckingham Palace broke with a tradition of silence when it comes to arrangements for Royal visits to Northern Ireland, announcing the exact dates - 26 and 27 June - well in advance.
That has been noted as a significant development, given the precedent for tight security arrangements, and it is thought the success of the recent visit by the Queen to the Republic of Ireland is at least partly responsible.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson said he was delighted that local people would get the opportunity to be a part of the celebrations marking the Queen's 60-year reign.
"I know that Her Majesty will receive the warmest of welcomes," he said.
"This is a truly historic occasion and an opportunity to recognise the service and dedication of Her Majesty to the whole United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and her people."
First Minister Peter Robinson also welcomed the announcement.
"It is fitting that such a celebration should take place in the Stormont Estate," the DUP leader said.