Queen begins Irish visit

Queen begins Irish visit

Security tightened after makeshift bomb found, destroyed

The visit, the first by a British monarch since Ireland won independence from London in 1921, is designed to show how warm neighbourly relations have replaced centuries of animosity and the queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, appeared unperturbed by the bomb alert.

The monarch, dressed in an emerald green coat and matching hat, was greeted by Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, a military airfield named after a British diplomat executed in 1916 for aiding the Irish nationalist cause.

She met Ireland’s President Mary McAleese, a Catholic from Northern Ireland and a champion of better relations between the two countries, for a ceremonial welcome followed by a lunch of roast turbot and boxty, an Irish potato cake. Standing before the president’s house, the former residence of the viceroys who oversaw British rule in Ireland, the queen reviewed a Guard of Honour and was given a 21-gun salute. In an overcast capital, local people shook their heads in disgust at the discovery of a bomb in the luggage compartment of a bus headed for Dublin.

“It’s bad. They are dragging us into the dark ages,” said Tom O’Neill, a 34-year-old salesman. “There are some people in Ireland who have to get over the whole English thing. They are our neighbours.”

Militant nationalists opposed to British control of Northern Ireland are suspected of planting the device, which was destroyed in a controlled explosion by the army in Maynooth, 25 km, after a telephone warning to police.

Ireland is mounting its biggest ever security operation for the four-day visit and the arrival of US President Barack Obama two days later.