Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has a message for the opponents of Queen Elizabeth's and US president Barack Obama's forthcoming state visits to Ireland. They should stop grousing and consider these visits an investment in the future, he said.
Kenny was responding to a chorus of critics in the Irish parliament this week who argued the queen's security costs could be better spent on much needed hospital beds.
Richard Boyd Barrett, a member of parliament, raised the issue of the cost of the visit to the nation's purse, adding that by inviting "one of the richest women in the world to this country for a jamboree" the prime minister was "rubbing the noses" of the Irish public who were being "slaughtered with cuts."
Barrett then asked if it were true that the security costs for the two state visits would amount to 25 million euro.
In response Prime Minister Kenny described Barrett’s comments as short-sighted, adding that he should look at the visits of two global figures as an investment.
Kenny added that it was the first time in 100 years that a reigning British monarch had visited Ireland, and her visit was "the culmination of a great deal of work by a great number of people who brought about a peace situation."
Minister Joe Higgins said the reason for President Obama’s visit was to "support his re-election campaign and how this will impact on the Irish-American vote."
Higgins added that it was a "little rich that the taxpayer, as well as bailing out European speculators, now must make a contribution to the re-election campaign of a US president."
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomed president Obama’s visit, but added that while some might welcome the Queen’s visit, others "have the right to dissent provided they do so peacefully."
Kenny added: "Ireland is a free country and visitors are welcome here" and the "vast majority of people will welcome the visits of the Queen of England and President Obama."
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