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Tuesday, November 10, 1998 Published at 11:41 GMT


Philip in historic visit

It is Prince Philip's first visit to Ireland

The Duke of Edinburgh has arrived in the Irish capital, Dublin, for his first visit to the Republic.

His visit may pave the way for the Queen to make the first official trip to Dublin by a reigning monarch in 87 years.

He arrived in an RAF helicopter at Aras an Uachtarain, home of Irish President Mary McAleese in the Phoenix Park shortly after 1000 GMT.

After meeting the president he will go to Dublin Castle with Mrs McAleese for the launch of the Millennium Gold Encounter - a youth awards scheme to take place in over 60 countries in 1999.

He will then visit Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and are scheduled to discuss plans drafted in conjunction with Gaisce, the Irish National Challenge Awards for young men and women aged 15-25.

[ image: The Duke meets some youngsters participating in the award scheme]
The Duke meets some youngsters participating in the award scheme
The Prince of Wales attended a Gaisce function in Dublin Castle when he visited the republic two years ago.

The younger royals have made a number of trips to the southern side of the Irish border in the last few years.

Dublin Correspondent Leo Enright reports
If the Queen were to follow in her husband's footsteps, it would be the first visit to Ireland by a reigning British monarch following Ireland's independence 76 years ago.

[ image: Mary McAleese: Due to meet the Queen in Belgium]
Mary McAleese: Due to meet the Queen in Belgium
It would be the first visit to Dublin since King George V was in the Irish capital in 1911.

A senior royal visit would be regarded on all sides as the most high-level possible recognition of the new "mature" relationship between Britain and the Republic in the light of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Ms McAleese and the Queen are due to meet this month in Messine, Belgium, to mark the opening of a British-Irish funded memorial to the Irish dead of the World War II.

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