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British queen makes historic peace trip to Ireland

By Shawn Pogatchnik

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 1:55 p.m. MDT

The protesters were outnumbered by several thousand well-wishers hoping to get a glimpse of the queen and her husband, Prince Philip. Crowds clapped and cheered when she left Trinity College after viewing rare books, including the Book of Kells, a celebrated 9th-century gospel manuscript.

Police made it extremely difficult for protesters to get within sight of any of the queen's engagements. Onlookers were given few vantage points to see the queen unless they had been included in carefully vetted guest lists.

The queen tailored her arrival outfit to her destination, stepping off the plane resplendent in a cloak of emerald green and a dress of St. Patrick's blue. She later changed into an ivory outfit trimmed with green. Both outfits were topped with the fanciful hats that are her trademark.

She had been invited to Ireland by President McAleese, a Belfast-born Catholic who has spent 14 years lobbying the queen to make the journey in the name of peace.

McAleese welcomed the queen by saying that Britain and Ireland were "determined to make the future a much, much better place."

The queen didn't comment ahead of her planned speech Wednesday night at Dublin Castle, the former seat of British rule of Ireland.

A 33-motorcycle police escort led the queen to McAleese's residence in Dublin's vast Phoenix Park through the unusually empty streets of Dublin — cleared to ensure no anti-British extremist could get close enough to launch an attack.

Nearby Dublin Zoo was closed as a security precaution and no civilian aircraft were permitted over central Dublin for the day.

The queen's visit to the Garden of Remembrance also showed that at 85 she still has the stamina for challenging events, walking a lengthy stretch beside a reflecting pool before climbing 28 stone steps without faltering to reach a sculpture honoring the dead.

Sinn Fein lawmaker Aengus O Snodaigh, who helped release the black balloons, said they were intended to symbolize the hundreds killed by British troops in Northern Ireland and the 33 people killed in no-warning car bomb attacks on Dublin and the border town of Monaghan in May 1974.

"We are living in changed and changing times," O Snodaigh said. "But the fact that Dublin city is on lockdown for the week makes it clear that the relationship between the two islands is still not 'normal'."

Nonetheless, Sinn Fein itself has embraced peace after supporting the IRA's efforts to overthrow Northern Ireland by force. That fruitless campaign formally ended with the IRA's disarmament in 2005. It paved the way for a surprisingly stable coalition government today in Belfast involving Sinn Fein and their former enemies in the British Protestant majority there.

The northern peace leaves only small bands of IRA dissidents to carry on a largely symbolic campaign. They mounted a few token efforts of opposition Tuesday that grabbed headlines but failed to disrupt anything.

Irish Army experts overnight defused one pipe bomb on a Dublin-bound bus that was detected in Maynooth, 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of the capital. Police said the bomb was properly constructed but not primed to detonate.

A second device abandoned near a light-rail station in west Dublin was deemed a hoax Tuesday morning. Later, police responded to at least two more reports of suspicious packages in working-class districts of north Dublin, but no further bombs were confirmed.

Police said IRA dissidents using a recognized codeword warned about the bus bomb, which was left in overhead luggage.

Irish and British officials were keen to stress that the queen's visit to Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork would proceed as planned — accompanied by the biggest security operation in the Republic of Ireland's history.

"This is the start of an entirely new beginning for Ireland and Britain," Kenny said. "I really do hope that the welcome she gets will be genuine and memorable for her."

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