The Queen’s legacy ‘a reminder of the need to nurture British-Irish relations’ – Martin

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the Queen’s legacy was a reminder of the importance of “maintaining” British-Irish relations, as he praised the late monarch’s “authentic measures” towards reconciliation.

The Taoiseach spoke from London ahead of Monday morning’s state funeral.

Mr Martin and his wife Mary, along with Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, will be among the 500 foreign dignitaries attending the funeral at Westminster Abbey.

The two couples visited Westminster Hall on Sunday afternoon before signing a book of condolence at Lancaster House.

The Irish delegation was also due to attend a heads of state reception hosted by the King at Buckingham Palace on Sunday night.

Speaking to reporters in London, Mr Martin said it was a “very significant moment in history”, adding: “Her warmth, her authentic actions and through actions and through what she has done, she has made a tremendous contribution .”

He said the Queen’s visit to Ireland in 2011 was the culmination of “enormous work” which has “cemented” reconciled Anglo-Irish relations in modern times and will be remembered for a long time.

“In many ways it gives us all time to stop and reflect on the importance of the British-Irish relationship, the need to cherish and nurture it for generations to come.”

Addressing Irish people living in Britain who are mourning the loss of the Queen, as well as the Unionist community, he said: “We feel for you, we send you our deepest sympathy for your loss.

“And there is a deep sense of loss in parts of the island of Ireland, particularly in the Unionist and Loyalist communities, in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death. I recognize that.”

Speaking about the queue of people to pay their respects to the Queen’s coffin resting in Westminster Hall, Mr Martin said it was “incredible”.

“It’s very moving and I think in many ways it’s a reminder of the bond, the connection between Brits of different generations and Queen Elizabeth.

“It’s quite an extraordinary thing to see firsthand and we have to appreciate that in Ireland. There is a deep connection there.”

Micheal Martin arrives at Downing Street ahead of a meeting with Liz Truss (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA wire)

When asked about the number of foreign dignitaries attending the funeral, Mr Martin added: “It reflects admiration for a person who, if I use the phrase ‘have done the basics well’, has done a good service who has done his duty well.

“And in many ways, it did so in an unobtrusive way. And that hard work ethic resonated around the world. So it really illustrates the deep respect that people around the world had for Queen Elizabeth.”

Mr Martin said he had a “cordial” meeting with British Prime Minister Liz Truss but refrained from answering questions about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He left 10 Downing Street just under an hour after arriving to meet Ms Truss on Sunday morning for what was intended to be an informal chat rather than a traditional bilateral meeting.

Britain is expected to push legislation to give its ministers the power to scrap parts of the protocol agreed by Britain and the EU to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The EU and Ireland claim Britain’s move to unilaterally revise the post-Brexit treaty violates international law.

(PA graphic) (PA graphic)

Diplomatic efforts are expected to intensify in the coming weeks to find a solution.

“I don’t think this is the right time to go into detail about issues like protocol,” Mr Martin said during an interview on BBC Radio 4, adding that he respected the UK’s mourning period.

He continued: “I had a good telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister last week, had a first cordial meeting this morning where we discussed many issues relating to British-Irish relations.

“But I think we have an opportunity to reframe relationships and to be aware of what we’ve accomplished over the past few years, the obstacles that were overcome back then.

“And that gives us the strength to know that we are able to overcome current obstacles and current issues that could potentially hinder the relationship, and I believe we can overcome them.”

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