Newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary, Owen Paterson, said that the Queen has shown interest in visit to the Republic of Ireland to take in a stud farm.

A visit by the British monarch to Ireland would be a highly controversial one, but Paterson said it would be “absolutely marvelous."

“I discussed that with the last British ambassador [to Dublin] and with the current one,” he said.

“It would be tremendous if the queen did visit the Republic, particularly during the term of the current President, as she and her husband have done such tremendous work.”

He was referring to President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, who have been deeply involved in reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland .

“The queen does have a bit of an interest in going to Coolmore [stud], as I understand it. There are certainly plenty of good racing establishments,” said Paterson.

Coolmore, owned by the racing tycoons John Magner and Michael Tabor, is based in County Tipperary near Cashel and is one of the leading studs in the world.

Patterson is interested in horseracing himself. In fact, yesterday, he was due to attend a major horserace meet being held in York, Britain, but he had to change his plans due to his appointment to cabinet.

“I do compare notes on racing with the Taoiseach,” he said.