Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said that Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland, which is set for May, is premature.
“As republicans, Sinn Féin is very aware of the symbolism of a state visit by Queen Elizabeth of England and of the offense it will cause to many Irish citizens, particularly victims of British rule and those with legacy issues in this state and in the North. We are also very conscious of the attitude of our unionist neighbors,” he said.
Adams also stated the occasion reflected a different time that the queen could now visit, the first visit to the Irish Republic by a British monarch in 100 years.
The trip “is obviously an indication that we are living in changed and changing times. Sinn Féin is in the leadership of this process of change,” Adams said.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen stated that the visit would “put the relationship between Britain and Ireland on a new footing, to explore what we have in common.”
He said that there is a “very strong Irish diaspora” in Britain, “and it’s very important that we develop relations in the 21st century, having overcome the difficulties of the past one.”
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron stated, “The visit symbolizes the strength of the relationship between our nations and the bond between the British and Irish people.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin told “The Irish Times” that the May visit is a “further milestone in the transformation of relationships between our countries that has been ongoing for many years and will act as another step in the journey of reconciliation.”
The fact that a visit could now take place – the first by a British sovereign to Dublin since 1911 – “is an endorsement of the peace strategy pursued by Irish and British governments over a number of decades.”
Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was worried about violent demonstrations but said the visit was “appropriate and timely.”
Speaking of possible violent protests he said, “I believe the security forces will be able to handle it. It isn’t a reason for cancelling it. We must never allow extremists of whatever persuasion to interfere with efforts to strengthen relations.”