Published on 

Statement by the Tánaiste on the death of Queen Elizabeth

I pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her passing which marks the end of an incredible epoch in British history. As Head of State she helped usher in a new era of hope and reconciliation between our two countries, opening a new chapter in relations between Ireland and the UK. 


Her life was devoted to public service, and her dedication to her work, to her people and to her country, over seven decades of extraordinary and sometimes difficult change, won respect and admiration all around the world.


From our perspective, she will always be remembered as the first British monarch to visit an independent Ireland, a visit which was a watershed moment on the long road to reconciliation. Symbolism matters, and the visit showed that it is possible to move beyond a painful history, and use our shared experiences to build a new future in a spirit of hope and forgiveness.


From a British perspective, she was their longest-reigning monarch, and a much-loved and respected head of State. When born, she was third in line to the throne, but found herself a Queen at just 25 years of age.


Her life was one of ongoing dedication, of service to her people, and to the Commonwealth which flourished under her watch. Her workload was the stuff of legend - as late as Wednesday evening, she was scheduled to meet with her Privy Council to discuss affairs of State. 


From the start of her reign she travelled far and wide, visiting countries inside and outside the Commonwealth; countries with good relations with the UK, and those with more troubled ones.


Ireland has had a complex and deeply troubled relationship with the British monarchy over many centuries. Queen Elizabeth will be remembered as someone who built bridges between Ireland and the UK, and restored connections between our nations.


I was honoured to briefly meet Queen Elizabeth, and the Duke of Edinburgh, during their visit to Ireland in my capacity as Minister for Tourism. I will always recall her warmth, her grace, and most especially her humour. This was a mission that mattered precisely because the history between our two countries had been so difficult for so long. In the past, the British monarchy had been a symbol of all that was wrong in that relationship. She transformed it into a symbol of reconciliation.  


We didn’t realise it at the time, but her visit to Ireland was a new beginning in relations between Ireland and the UK. I remember vividly the surprise and delight of hearing a British monarch speaking Irish at a State occasion, the smile on her face as she met Irish citizens, and her now legendary visit to the English Market in Cork.


May she Rest in Peace, and may her successors help to continue the long and ongoing work of reconciliation between Ireland and the UK.