The goal of modern British-Irish relations can be ‘simply stated,’ she said. ‘It is that we, who inhabit these islands, should live together as neighbours and friends. Respectful of each other’s nationhood, sovereignty and traditions. Cooperating to our mutual benefit. At ease in each other’s company.
‘After so much chequered history, the avoidable and regrettable pain of which is still felt by many of us, this goal is now within reach.’
President Higgins said Ireland and Britain ‘live in the shadow and the shelter of each other’ and have gained strength from one another.’
He continued: ‘While we grieve together for lost lives, we will not let any painful aspect of our shared history deflect us from crafting a future of hope,’ he said.
The Queen also said that as the two nations ‘enter a period of historical resonance, it is right to look back in remembrance.’
She said that her government and her family woudl stand by Ireland ‘throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.’
The Queen said Britain had been ‘hugely enriched by the migration of Irishmen and women to these shores.’
‘And yet, over the years, many Irish migrants to Britain encountered discrimination and a lack of appreciation.
‘Happily, those days are now behind us…’
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were also among the 160 guests from the worlds of entertainment, arts and politics present.
In an historic address to both houses of the British Parliament, the President said relations between the two islands had achieved a great warmth. However, there is still a road to be travelled, he said, the road of lasting and creative reconciliation.