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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Irish Republican

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and SF's Michelle O'Neill to attend King Charles' coronation next week

The UK’s King Charles and his wife Camilla will be crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 May.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 26th 2023, 3:16 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR will travel to London next week to attend the coronation of the UK’s King Charles.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach confirmed to The Journal that he would be travelling on behalf on the Irish Government.

“The Office of the Taoiseach can confirm that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will travel to London to attend the coronation ceremony of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey on Saturday May,” the spokesperson said.

It comes just hours after Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill confirmed that she would attend the coronation next week.

Speaking to Sky News, the party’s leader in Northern Ireland said it was “important to honour the pledge [she] made to the public” during the Assembly election last year when she said she “would be a First Minister for all”.

“I think this is a fulfilment of that promise,” O’Neill said.

“There are those in our community that have a British identity and an allegiance to the monarchy and I think it’s important that I, as a First Minister for all, can be respectful of their viewpoint and and also I can represent all the people in our community.”

Alex Maskey, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and another member of Sinn Féin, has also confirmed that he plans to attend the coronation.

The coronation is due to take place on 6 May in Westminster Abbey, where both Charles and his wife Camilla will be crowned.

O’Neill also attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in September.

In a statement this afternoon, O’Neill said: “I have accepted an invitation to attend the coronation of King Charles III.”

“We are living in a time of great change. A time to respect our differing and equally legitimate aspirations, a time to firmly focus on the future and the opportunities that the next decade will bring,” she said.

“I am an Irish Republican. I also recognise there are many people on our island for whom the coronation is a hugely important occasion.

“I am committed to being a First Minister for all, representing the whole community, building good relations between the people of these islands, and advancing peace and reconciliation through respectful and mature engagement.

“Therefore, as First Minister Designate, I will join President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, international figures, church leaders, other party leaders and the Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey for the coronation in London.”

Relations between republican leaders in Northern Ireland and the British royal family have slowly improved in more recent years, despite the clear ideological conflict that remains.

In 2012, a meeting between Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth made waves as an event that many could never have anticipated in prior years as the two exchanged a handshake. They met again in 2016 in a move that was warmly welcomed by political leaders.

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally

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