Northern Ireland

John Hume hails Queen's Ireland visit

John Hume
Image caption John Hume said Queen's visit underlined new friendship with people of Ireland

The former SDLP leader and Nobel peace laureate John Hume has said the Queen's visit to the Republic underlines the new "positive relationship" that exists between Ireland and Britain.

Mr Hume, who has been described as an architect of the peace process, said he also believed the royal visit would help put the past firmly where it belongs.

The 73-year-old was among specially invited guests at a lunch in Áras an Uachtaráin on the first day of the Queen's visit on Tuesday.

"It was very important and the warmth of the welcome she received was also very important because the stresses of the past that existed should no longer exist," he said.

"It's quite clear now that there's a very strong friendship between the peoples, between the English, the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish and that's as it should be.

"And of course the very fact that the Queen was able to come and be so well received in Dublin underlines completely the positive nature now of our relationships.

"I have no doubt that will lead to a building of a whole new approach to one another over the years."

Significant

Mr Hume said the Queen's decision to speak Irish at the state banquet on Wednesday was also significant.

"The fact that she spoke Irish in Ireland was a very positive sign of her friendship, underlining the strength of her friendship with the people of Ireland.

"In the past it was a very different picture altogether but it is another very positive step in developing strongly the peaceful relatIonships between the peoples of both islands.

"I'm quite sure the people of both islands will certainly hope that that will remain the case for the future," he said.

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