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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 14:15 GMT
Irish Royal visit is 'inevitable'
The Queen
The Queen could be invited to visit Ireland
A visit to the Republic of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II is inevitable, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said.

Mr Ahern was speaking on RTE radio on Christmas Eve when he made the comment.

"I think she will come in the next few years, I'm not sure it will be 2008," he said. "I think that it is inevitable that she will come."

He said outstanding security issues in the NI peace process would be agreed next year, and an invitation to her would "probably be issued after that".

During the interview Mr Ahern said he has no immediate plans to step down and would be staying on as Taoiseach for a 'good few years'.

When asked about his recent appearance at the Mahon Tribunal, the Taoiseach said it was something which had to be done.

The tribunal is investigating planning corruption and Mr Ahern has been asked about cash transactions which went through bank accounts on his behalf in the 1990s. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The last visit to Ireland by a reigning British monarch was when George V, The Queen's grandfather, came to Dublin in 1911, when Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom.

In recent years, other British royals have visited Ireland, including Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip and Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

There has been speculation about a visit by the queen since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Power is now being shared between unionists and nationalists in a revived Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

For years, Ireland's Belfast-born President Mary McAleese has strongly supported the prospect of a visit by Queen Elizabeth.

The night she was elected for her first seven-year term as President in 1997, Mrs McAleese said she hoped she would host the queen on her first visit.

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