Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has softened his stance on the British Queen’s visit to Ireland and has admitted it will strengthen ties between the two countries.
The most powerful Republican on the island of Ireland has all but welcomed the visit in a statement issued ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s arrival on Tuesday.
The recently elected Louth member of the Irish parliament also called on the British government to show its support for an improvement in relations between Ireland and Britain.
“If this is the case, it will be a matter of considerable pleasure, not just for her Majesty, but for the rest of us as well,” said Adams who had been critical of the visit during the recent election campaign.
No Sinn Fein representative will attend any of the various official functions surrounding the visit but Adams has taken a far more conciliatory approach.
He added: “I want to see a real and meaningfully new and better relationship between the peoples of Ireland and Britain.
“Republicans have been to the forefront in working to bring this about and we will continue to do so.
“The visit by the Queen of England provides a unique opportunity for the British establishment to make it clear that this is its intention also.
“I am for a new relationship between the people of Ireland and between the people of Ireland and Britain based on equality and mutual respect.
“I hope this visit will hasten that day but much will depend on what the British monarch says. As an Irish citizen who was detained without charge or trial a number of times on a British prison ship, in a prison camp and H Block, as well as a more conventional prison, at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, I hope so.”
No reply was forthcoming from the British or Irish governments after Adams spoke warmly of the historical ties between the two nations.
He continues: “Ireland and England are not strangers to each other. We have build on what we have in common while at the same time respecting each other’s sovereignty and independence.
“We all need to embrace diversity, including the sense of Britishness felt by many unionists.”