British Queen to visit symbolic Croke Park
May 18, 2011, 8:59 GMT
Dublin - Britain's Queen Elizabeth was due Wednesday to visit Croke Park stadium, the site of a massacre by British forces in 1920, as security remained tight for her historic first visit to Ireland.
The Queen, who laid a wreath at a memorial for those who died 'in the cause of Irish freedom' Tuesday, is the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland.
The symbolic gesture has been hailed as 'momentous' in Ireland.
Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said the visit shows that both countries are coming to terms with their 'complex history.'
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also in Ireland for the visit, said the visit was 'hugely significant' and that only a tiny minority were opposed to it.
'It speaks to the past, but it does show that we're able to move on to the future, and make the most of normal relationships with friendly neighbours.'
The British Prime Minister David Cameron is also expected in Dublin Wednesday.
Ireland gained independence from British rule in 1922, but the six largely Protestant counties of Northern Ireland remained British.
The violent conflict between Catholic nationalists who wanted a united Ireland and Protestants loyal to the link with Britain was brought to a resolution with the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998.
The implementation of the agreement has led to the Queen's visit, welcomed by most Irish people as a sign of the normalization of the relationship between the two countries.
After talks with Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Cameron will attend a state dinner for the Queen at Dublin Castle.
The Queen's much-anticipated and only speech will be made at the dinner.
The Queen will also hold a private meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings, before meeting the cabinet.
She is then expected to lay a wreath during a 30-minute ceremony at the Irish War Memorial Garden in Islandbridge. The garden commemorates the 44,500 Irishmen and women who died fighting for the British in the First World War.
At the request of Irish President Mary McAleese, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) will then host the Queen at Croke Park, the home of Irish sport such as Gaelic football and hurling.
The stadium is the site of the original Bloody Sunday massacre in 1920 in which 14 people were shot dead by British forces during the War of Independence (1919-1921).
Security remains tight across Dublin ahead of the Queen's first engagement Wednesday, a visit to the Guinness brewery museum in Dublin city centre.
Gardai (Irish police) expect that there could be further attempts to cause disruption to the visit.
Late Tuesday, 20 men were charged with public order offences arising from disturbances in Dublin city.
Gardai say peaceful protests will be facilitated, but well back from the venues the Queen is due to visit Wednesday.
The army bomb Disposal Team was called out twice to suspicious devices late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Both were hoaxes.
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