Queen Visit: Britain and Ireland Bury the Hatchet

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

[Intro music]

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. A band played as Queen Elizabeth II arrived today at a military airbase outside Dublin, Ireland. It marked the start of the first visit by a British Monarch since Ireland won Independence 90 years ago. Security is extra tight for the historic visit with key roads in Dublin closed and thousands of police officers deployed. Hours before the Queen arrived; the Irish Army diffused a bomb in an area she was due to visit. The 4-day visit is intended to turn a new page in the often troubled historical relationship between Britain and Ireland. Eamon Dunphy is an Irish Radio and Television Commentator; Eamon, what's been the reaction to the arrival of the Queen today?

Eamon Dunphy: Generally very positive, very warm. There have been some fringe demonstrations by dissident republicans but they've been very much on the margins. The general atmosphere is very welcoming and a sense that this is the end of a chapter in our history and in the history of our relationship with Britain.

Weman: Well the security has been really tight leading up to the visit and, as we mentioned earlier, a bomb was diffused in the area where the Queen was due to visit. But, has she been able to meet and interact with the public?

Dunphy: No, only in controlled situations. She hasn't been able to walk about on the street. For example, when Prince Charles was here a few years ago, he was able to do that, but she hasn't been able to do that. This afternoon she went to the Garden of Remembrance which is a memorial to the Irish Republicans who fought the British Crown in generations past, and who died. She laid a wreath and she bowed her head in acknowledgement, and that was a hugely symbolic moment.

Werman: And what else is on the Queen's agenda? There's this place Croke Park that she'll be visiting later. Why is Croke Park significant on the Queen's visit?

Dunphy: In 1920, on Bloody Sunday, British troops went into Croke Park during a big football match, like an NFL game. They invaded it. They killed 14 spectators. They took one of the players; they arrested and took him out. It was a terrible atrocity and seen as an atrocity at the time. My grandfather was actually in the stadium and they were made to stand with their hands in the air for hours. It was a brutal response to an event that had happened on the morning of Bloody Sunday, which is that Michael Collins who was one of the leaders of the resistance had ordered the assassination of a number of British Secret Service men. So, at that particular place, Croke Park is hugely significant and the fact that she's going there I think it would have been hard for us to conceive of that, even 10 years ago.

Werman: You know, when the Queen pays a visit anywhere in the world there is always lots of goodwill; kids line the streets with Union Jacks. Can you imagine that kind of day where there is unconditional love for Queen Elizabeth?

Dunphy: Yes I can. I think somewhere down the line, I think for most people, what I think we have is unconditional respect for her. Not many of us here now are very hostile or Brit haters. That's the truth of it. We've always had an affection for the British and an empathy with them.

Werman: Eamon Dunphy, an Irish Radio and Television Commentator. Thank you very much for your time sir.

Dunphy: My pleasure.