Enda Kenny says Queen's visit is start of 'new era'

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Media captionEnda Kenny said the Queen's visit was 'the start of a new era between both countries'

The Queen's state visit this week will mark the "start of a new era", Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said.

He said security would be high but she would receive a warm welcome and there would be opportunities for members of the Irish public to meet her.

The Queen's four-day state visit starts on Tuesday.

It is the first state visit to the Irish Republic by a British monarch since independence but comes against a rise in dissident republican violence.

King George V was the last reigning monarch to visit the country in 1911 when it was then part of the UK.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the Queen's visit to Ireland would inevitably be surrounded by security issues but she said the Garda Siochana were experienced in protecting public figures.

Mr Kenny told the BBC that the Queen would "receive a very warm welcome from the vast majority of Irish people.

"The visit of Queen Elizabeth is the start of a new era between both countries and it is one based on respect and friendship and mutual recognition of two countries having normalised relations."

'Sensitive sites'

Mr Kenny, who became Taoiseach in March at the head of a coalition government, said: "The sites chosen by the Queen for her visit are sensitive and appropriate and send out a great message of healing of the past and getting together to face the challenges of the future."

Image caption The Queen will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on the trip

The Queen was invited to Ireland by the Republic's President, Mary McAleese, who will formally welcome the monarch at her home in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

The Queen will attend events at Trinity College Dublin, the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge and at Croke Park stadium.

Croke Park is the home of Gaelic football where, in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence, British forces fired into the crowd at a match, killing 14 spectators and players.

There are also plans for the Queen and Prince Philip to visit the Irish National Stud in Kildare, as well as the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, and a technology park in Cork.

The Queen is set to make a speech at a state dinner at Dublin Castle.

Asked about the threat of a dissident republican attack, Mrs May told the BBC: "We constantly live looking at the issue of the threat of terrorism.

"We know regarding Northern Irish-related terrorism there have been a number of attempted attacks earlier this year and there was of course the death of Pc Ronan Kerr.

"What was significant about that was the response from the Taoiseach...that incidents like that are not blowing us off the course of democracy in Northern Ireland," she added.

She said the visit was a historic moment and was an important stage in marking the relationship between the two countries.