Queen Elizabeth II - President Michael D Higgins expresses ‘deep personal sadness’ following death

President Michael D Higgins was one of the first politicians to issue a statement following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II stands with Irish President Michael D. Higgins. Photo credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II stands with Irish President Michael D. Higgins. Photo credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

And SDLP leader, Foyle MP, Colum Eastwood has also issued a statement in which he described the late queen as “warm and welcoming”.

“It is with profound regret and a deep personal sadness that I have learnt of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said President Higgins.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland, may I express my heartfelt sympathy to His Majesty King Charles and to the Royal Family on their very great personal loss. May I offer my deepest condolences to the British people and to the members of the Commonwealth on the loss of a unique, committed and deeply respected Head of State.

“Her Majesty served the British people with exceptional dignity. Her personal commitment to her role and extraordinary sense of duty were the hallmarks of her period as Queen, which will hold a unique place in British history.

“Her reign of 70 years encompassed periods of enormous change, during which she represented a remarkable source of reassurance to the British people. This was a reassurance based on a realism of the significance of present events, rather than any narrow conception of history. This was so well reflected by a remarkable generosity of spirit which helped to foster a more inclusive relationship both with the British people themselves and with those with whom her country has experienced a complex, and often difficult, history.

He added: “As President of Ireland, I recall the exceptional hospitality afforded to Sabina and myself by the Queen and the late Prince Philip on our four day State Visit to Britain in 2014. Together we celebrated the deeply personal interconnection between the Irish and British people, a connection embodied by the hundreds of thousands of families who have moved between our shores over the centuries.

“As we know, the Queen often spoke of how much she enjoyed her own historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011, the first such Visit by a British monarch since Irish independence, and during which she did so much through eloquent word and generous gesture to improve relations between our two islands.

“Queen Elizabeth’s Visit was pivotal in laying a firm basis for an authentic and ethical understanding between our countries. During those memorable few days eleven years ago, the Queen did not shy away from the shadows of the past. Her moving words and gestures of respect were deeply appreciated and admired by the people of Ireland and set out a new, forward looking relationship between our nations – one of respect, close partnership and sincere friendship.

“As we offer our condolences to all our neighbours in the United Kingdom, following the loss of a remarkable friend of Ireland, we remember the role Queen Elizabeth played in celebrating the warm and enduring friendship, and her great impact on the bonds of mutual understanding, between our two peoples. She will be deeply missed.”

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP also extended his sincere condolences upon news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Foyle MP said that Queen Elizabeth had become one of the most consequential figures of the last century during her long reign and paid tribute to the strong bonds of friendship that she helped to foster between Britain and Ireland.

The SDLP Leader said that his thoughts are with her family and with all those for whom she holds a cherished place at this difficult time.

Colum Eastwood MP said: “Queen Elizabeth II was, without doubt, one of the most consequential civic figures of the last century. As British Monarch, and a member of the British Royal Family, she has provided leadership to her people from the fires of conflict in Europe during the second world war to the peace that the peoples of these islands now enjoy. I was deeply saddened to learn of her passing earlier today.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of all those in the SDLP are with Queen Elizabeth’s family at an extraordinarily difficult time. The blessing of a long life does not make the burden of saying goodbye any lighter. I also want to extend my deep condolences to all those, across the world, but particularly in Northern Ireland for whom the Queen held a cherished place in their lives and their hearts. I know how difficult it is to lose your heroes and I hope they are comforted by the enduring legacy that she will leave, having been witness to and having helped to shape our shared story.

“Elizabeth’s influence on Ireland, our people and our peace cannot be underestimated. She, too, experienced the sharp pain of loss following the murder of her uncle in Mullaghmore but in common with the people of Ireland remained committed to reconciliation between our islands. That commitment was demonstrated powerfully and publicly during her visit in 2011 and particularly the quiet dignity on show during her visit to the garden of remembrance.

“I met Queen Elizabeth on a number of occasions as SDLP Leader. And while it’s difficult to think of two people more divorced from one another in background and aspiration, I found her to be warm, welcoming and totally concerned with the needs and interests of people. I understand that a debate on her legacy will now follow, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland. I would ask that views be tempered in the coming days in light of the loss that so many people in our community will be feeling right now.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.”