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1977: Tight security for Queen's Irish visit

VIDEO : The Queen arrives for Northern Ireland visit

The Queen has visited Northern Ireland for the first time in 11 years as part of her Silver Jubilee tour.

A 21-gun salute marked her arrival at Belfast Loch aboard the royal yacht Britannia on Wednesday morning.

However, Her Majesty did not come ashore in Belfast where reaction to her visit has been divided.

In loyalist areas of Belfast the union jacks are out.

But in the staunchly republican area of west Belfast there has been no celebration.

The IRA has threatened to give the Queen "a visit to remember".

As a result a specially strengthened contingent of 32,000 troops and police are on duty in the biggest royal security operation to date.

Security considerations meant the Queen made the short trip to the first stop on her tour - Hillsborough Castle - by helicopter.

Guests screened

At Hillsborough she was greeted by school children and inspected a guard of honour formed by members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) which supports the regular army in Northern Ireland.

After the inspection the Queen hosted an investiture and a garden party for several thousand guests who were all rigorously screened.

Meanwhile the Duke of Edinburgh was meeting workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

The royal visit - and the Queen's Silver Jubilee tour of the UK - concludes on Thursday with a visit to the New University of Ulster at Coleraine.

After leaving Northern Ireland the Queen and her family will take a cruise of the Western isles aboard Britannia.

In Context
In the run up to the Queen's visit the Provisional IRA mounted a campaign of violence hoping to have it cancelled.

The organisation mounted a spate of arson attacks on Protestant-owned shops in Belfast and the army HQ town of Lisburn.

The attacks caused damage with an estimated repair bill of 1m.

A bomb had also exploded at the New University of Ulster the week before the Queen's visit there.

The queen did not go to Northern Ireland again until 1991.

Since then she has returned several times including a visit to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002.


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