Friday, May 20, 2011

"That's fine in practice, but will it work in theory?"

A great sentence, expressed the late Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland, who died yesterday morning during the first visit to the Republic of Ireland of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.

Next week we welcome another state visitor, President Obama of the United States and his wife.

It's an expensive month for the Irish state, but well worth the expense in terms of goodwill. The last time a British monarch officially visited the Republic of Ireland (Prince Charles' visit during the 1990s was not an official state visit) was immediately before the treaty that divided the island into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland - so this visit this week is a major event.

During a state visit the Queen gave a speech that resonated with many. The Queen's Speech

Twenty years ago, such a visit would have been unthinkable, but Dr FitzGerald felt it was important to make peace with our nearest neighbour, and put steps in motion and brought about the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

I am very glad that he lived to see that his practice has indeed worked out in theory, even if it needed some time to come about about.

RIP Dr Garret FitzGerald. May he go well. 

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