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How will Ireland greet Queen Elizabeth's historic visit?

On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II will become the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland. Ireland's prime minister characterized the trip as evidence of a 'growing up' of two peoples.

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Margaret Urwin of the campaign group Justice for the Forgotten says she is meeting with Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Eamon Gilmore, asking him to encourage the British government to release documents thus far withheld from the Irish government’s judicial inquiries.

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“Effectively, it’s our 9/11 in proportional terms,” she says.

Could there be an attack?

Protests may be unwelcome as far as the authorities are concerned, but the real threat lies in terrorism. A veritable alphabet soup of dissident republican groups, including the so-called Real IRA, Continuity IRA, and a new grouping simply calling itself the IRA have stepped up actions in Northern Ireland recently. The latter group claimed responsibility for the fatal bombing of Police Service of Northern Ireland officer Ronan Kerr in April.

Mark Hayes who teaches criminology, including modules on terrorism, at Southampton Solent University in Britain says the possibility an attack in the Republic is a slim one.

“It’s extremely unlikely, not because they wouldn’t want to do it – self-evidently they would – but because the security measures are all-pervasive. The amount security anywhere she [the Queen] goes is extraordinary,” he says, noting the massive security effort in London for the recent royal wedding.

An attack of some kind outside the Republic of Ireland, a concern raised by security analysts, is a more likely possibility, says Hayes.

“They [the dissidents] might do something as a spoiler of to notify people of their discontent,” he says.

Today British police revealed dissidents had issued a "non-specific” threat warning of an attack in London.

The revelation today that members of the Ulster Defence Association, a pro-British militant and vigilante organization, have been invited to meet the queen, has further enraged republicans.

Both the Garda Síochána, the police in the Republic of Ireland, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland declined to comment on security arrangements, though police have been sweeping the city, including sewers, looking for suspect devices and questioning staff working in businesses along the route.

Security for the back-to-back state visits is rumored to have cost $43 million, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in recession-hit Ireland.

“I have no problem with forking out for events that might boost Ireland's image and morale – although I still don't fully understand how the queen coming to Ireland is good for the country – but I do have a problem when money is badly spent and that's probably what is happening,” says O’Regan, the translator.


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