History will be made next April when President Michael D. Higgins becomes the first Irish head of state to make an official visit to Britain.
The upcoming visit was made possible following an equally historic occasion two years ago when Queen Elizabeth became the first monarch in over one hundred years to visit Ireland. Such was the success of that four day stay that it paved the way for a reciprocal invitation and President Higgins will now be feted by the Queen in Windsor Castle next year.
It is undoubtedly a most welcome development. After years of distrust and disharmony between two neighbouring nations the time has finally arrived when full diplomatic relations have been established.
It is a final step in the healing process. Considering the fractious relationship which existed at the height of the troubles in this county it is heartwarming to see Ireland and Britain putting the past behind and looking firmly to the future.
Both of our nations have much in common and many, many Irish people have settled in Britain and regard it as their second home.
Likewise many British natives have made Ireland their home in recent years and they too are happy to witness a new era of diplomacy between our nations.
This is a welcome step forward and we have no doubt that President Higgins will be accorded as great a welcome when he visits Britain as that given to Queen Elizabeth on her visit here two years ago.