Queen’s legacy ‘a reminder of need to nurture British-Irish relations’, says Taoiseach
Queen Elizabeth’s legacy is a reminder of the need to “nurture” British-Irish relations, said Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
He praised the late monarch’s “authentic actions” towards reconciliation.
Mr Martin and his wife Mary, President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina, and Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, were among the 500 foreign dignitaries to attend the State funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Last week Ms O’Neill was among Northern Irish political leaders to offer condolences to King Charles on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
“We sympathise with you, we offer you our
deepest sympathies upon your loss.”
On Sunday the Taoiseach and President, accompanied by their spouses, attended the lying in state at Westminster Hall on before signing a book of condolence at Lancaster House.
They later attended a reception hosted by the King Charles at Buckingham Palace for visiting heads of state and heads of government.
As Prince of Wales Charles has been a frequent visitor to Ireland. An early invitation to him to visit as King is expected.
Mr Martin said the Queen had, in her actions, represented a “very significant moment in history”.
He said: “Her warmth, her authentic actions, and by actions and by what she did, she made an enormous contribution.”
He said the Queen’s 2011 State visit to Ireland was the culmination of “enormous work” that “cemented” reconciled Anglo-Irish relations in the modern era, and would long be remembered.
“In many ways it gives us all time to pause and reflect on the importance of the British-Irish relationship, the need to cultivate it, to nurture it, for the future generations.”
He said he wished to specifically address Irish people in Britain as well as those who identify as British Unionists:
“We sympathise with you, we offer you our deepest sympathies upon your loss.
“And there is a deep sense of loss on parts of the island of Ireland, particularly in the Unionist and Loyalist community, as a result of the passing of Queen Elizabeth. I recognise that.”
Of the queue of people paying their respects at the Queen’s coffin, lying in state in Westminster Hall, Mr Martin said:
“It’s very moving, and I think it brings to mind in many respects the attachment, the connection between the British people of different generations and Queen Elizabeth.
“It’s quite an extraordinary thing to see at first hand, and we need to appreciate that in Ireland.
“There is a deep connection there.”
Of the huge number of foreign dignitaries attending the funeral, Mr Martin said:
“It reflects an admiration for a person who, if I use the phrase ‘did the fundamentals well’, who did service well, who did duty well.
“And, (who), in many ways did it in a non-ostentatious way.
“That hard work ethic resonated across the world.
“It really illustrates the depth of respect that people across the world had for Queen Elizabeth.”
Speaking of new Prime Minister Liz Truss, he said:
“I’ve had a good telephone conversation last week with the British Prime Minister, had an initial warm meeting where we discussed many issues in the context of the British-Irish relationship.
“The opportunity is there for us to reset relationships and to be conscious of what we achieved in previous years, the obstacles that were overcome then.
“That gives us the strength to know that we have the capacity to overcome current obstacles, current issues that potentially could impede the relationship, and I believe we can overcome them.”