Heaney, Hume guests at Royal visit events

Derry poet Seamus Heaney was one of the guests of honour at the state dinner hosted for Queen Elizabeth II in Dublin Castle on Wednesday night.

The Bellaghy-born Nobel Prize winning poet, who was educated at St Columb’s College was at the same table as the Queen at the gala banquet and was seated between British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Other guests at the table included An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and the British Ambassador to Ireland, Julian King.

Professor Heaney’s fellow Nobel Laureate, former Foyle MP, John Hume, also met the Queen during her four-day visit to the Republic when he attended an event in Dublin on Tuesday night.

East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell welcomed the Queen’s visit to Ireland. “I think we all believe that this visit by the Queen is long overdue, and certainly it is welcome,” he said.

However, Mr Campbell also criticised the protocol which calls for heads of state who visit the Republic to honour Ireland’s patriot dead.

“I do think that it is deeply unfortunate that the Queen was required to lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance, which is a shrine to those who murdered the loyal forces.

“We should not let this one sour note overshadow this visit by Her Majesty. It is something which should have happened a long time ago, after all, the President of Ireland has visited this country many times,” added Mr Campbell.

The Queen’s visit to the Garden of Remembrance was welcomed by many in Ireland and was regarded as hugely symbolic.