Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Press Association Images
Royal appointment

Queen Elizabeth to visit Croke Park, GAA confirm

Association officials expect the decision to be welcomed by its members, they insist.

GAA CHIEFS HAVE confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II will visit Croke Park as part of her official state visit next month.

The Association, in a statement released this evening, insist that the historic event will help to unite the country.

It reads: “The Gaelic Athletic Association has for well over a hundred years embodied and taken its stand with the mood of the nation, culturally, socially and politically.

“In unity with our players, administrators and supporters throughout the island and abroad, we were strongly committed advocates of the peace process, and we have welcomed, supported and celebrated the developing reconciliation which has resulted from the Good Friday Agreement and its endorsement by the people, North and South, in referenda.

“We now welcome the further development of this process, and the consequential deepening of relationships, which will flow from the invitation by President McAleese to Queen Elizabeth to pay a State visit to Ireland. The GAA is pleased to have been asked to receive Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by President McAleese, at our headquarters in Croke Park and to showcase our stadium and facilities to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their accompanying party.

“We believe that this request reflects and acknowledges the special place of the GAA in the life and history of the nation. We are confident that this historic visit to Croke Park will be welcomed by those who play, administer and support our games, at home and abroad, including of course throughout Britain.

“We hope also that it will encourage a greater interest and participation in our games by our fellow Irishmen and women of the Unionist tradition,” it concludes.

The visit, of course, will be deeply historically significant, as the location marks the same spot where British auxiliary troops gunned down 14 civilians during a match in 1920.