Obama hails queen's Irish visit

23rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

US President Barack Obama Monday hailed Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Ireland and said the drive for peace in Northern Ireland was an inspiration that could send a "ripple of hope" around the world.

Obama, launching a visit celebrating his distant family roots in Ireland, also said Washington had been impressed by the Irish rebound from the economic crisis and noted a "blood link" between the two nations.

"I wanted to just express to the Irish people... how inspired we have been by the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland," Obama said after talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin.

"It speaks to the possibility of peace and people in longstanding struggles being able to reimagine their relationships.

"To see her Majesty the Queen of England come here and see the mutual warmth and healing that I think took place as a consequence of that visit.

"To know that the former taoiseach Fitzgerald was able to witness the Queen coming here, sends a signal, not just in England, not just here in Ireland, but around the world."

The president was referring to Irish media reports that former Irish prime minister Garret Fitzgerald, who died last week aged 85, awoke in his final hours and was able to see TV footage of the queen's reconciliatory visit.

Obama said the royal visit also sent what slain US presidential candidate Robert Kennedy described as a "ripple of hope that may manifest itself in a whole range of ways."

Though he did not mention the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he may have perhaps been thinking of the imbroglio which he spent the last few days tackling, with little success, before leaving Washington.

Obama also said he was pleased to see the progress that Ireland was making as it tries to revive its economy, describing the process as a "hard road" that the Irish people were capable of travelling.

© 2011 AFP

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