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President Michael D Higgins inspects the army outside Aras An Uachtarain before his departure on the first state visit for a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Poll: Do you agree with Michael D Higgins' state visit to Britain?

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President Michael D Higgins inspects the army outside Aras An Uachtarain before his departure on the first state visit for a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Irish President Michael D Higgins began a historic state visit to Britain on Monday. President Higgins is accompanied by his wife, Sabina, on the trip.

President Higgins was greeted on arrival in England by the Irish ambassador to Britain, Dan Mulhall. As part of the historic trip, President Higgins will address the joint houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday, and will dine with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon.

This will be another key moment in the historic trip following the recent declaration by the British Prime Minister that relations between Ireland and Britain are now at “an all-time high.”

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness will be present for the state banquet, along with First Minister Peter Robinson, Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny.

President Higgins spoke on national radio in Ireland on Monday about the visit and relations with Queen Elizabeth II.

President Higgins said his meeting with the Queen will represent a new beginning in relations between the two countries.

“This is the opening of the door rather than the closing of anything," he told RTE's "Morning Ireland."

He said, "The invitation to return Her Majesty's visit (to Ireland, two years ago) came very quickly."
The visit has been approached with "great generosity and extension and enthusiasm from my host," he said.

The president is the first president to make an official state visit to Britain, and he will stay at Windsor Castle.

Independent.ie reports that President Higgins said that progress in the Northern Ireland peace process should not be about forgetting the past.

"There are a lot of very difficult memories and it would be to my mind wrong to suggest to anyone that you should as it were, wipe the slate clean," he said.

"I think Her Majesty in coming to Ireland and addressing for example issues of relations between our two people was doing it the right way."

The BBC's Fergal Keane asked Higgins if he believed the victims of violence deserved an apology.

Find out what President Higgins had to say:

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