Mc­Don­ald ex­tends hand of friend­ship to prince

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Eoin English

Sinn Féin pres­i­dent Mary Lou Mc­Don­ald met Prince Charles in Cork last night just hours af­ter he spoke of how rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing can guide both coun­tries on a path of shared pros­per­ity and se­cu­rity.

Sinn Féin mem­bers staged a protest in the city dur­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth’s visit in 2011, but the only protests yes­ter­day were about traf­fic di­ver­sions and park­ing re­stric­tions as part of a se­cu­rity oper­a­tion for the visit of the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Corn­wall.

Se­cu­rity was tight for the cou­ple’s fourth visit to Ire­land in as many years, but crowds in the city cen­tre were sparse, with gar­daí es­ti­mat­ing that about 2,000 peo­ple lined the streets.

The royal cou­ple vis­ited the English Mar­ket and City Hall, be­fore the prince vis­ited UCC, the Na­tional Mar­itime Col­lege and the Ir­ish Naval Base in Haulbow­line, as Camilla vis­ited the Ir­ish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Cuan­lee refuge.

On his last full day in of­fice, Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzger­ald hosted a civic re­cep­tion for the cou­ple, dur­ing which the prince said the part­ner­ship be­tween Bri­tain and Ire­land could hardly be of greater im­por­tance.

“To­day, we are not just neighbours, but old friends who, trag­i­cally, have trav­elled a trou­bled road, along which many wrongs have been done,” he said.

“With rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing as our guides, we have found a new path to shared pros­per­ity and se­cu­rity, and we are de­ter­mined that we must never lose our way again.”

Ms Mc­Don­ald, who was ac­com­pa­nied by Sinn Féin vice-pres­i­dent Michelle O’Neill dur­ing the 30-minute pri­vate meet­ing last night, said it was an op­por­tu­nity to ex­tend the hand of friend­ship, not just to Prince Charles or to the Bri­tish royal fam­ily — whose ef­forts to pro­mote rec­on­cil­i­a­tion she ac­knowl­edged — but to those on this is­land who iden­tify as Bri­tish and who are Bri­tish.

“The past may in­form who we are, but it can­not de­fine where we are go­ing,” she said.

Prince Charles told guests at the civic re­cep­tion of his joy of at last be­ing able to visit Ire­land’s “real cap­i­tal”.

“We have heard so many mar­vel­lous things about Cork, not least from my own par­ents, who so greatly en­joyed their visit to this city in 2011,” he said.

“In fact, when I told the queen we were go­ing to be vis­it­ing Cork, she said ‘you must go to the English Mar­ket. You will love it!’ So, in re­trac­ing the queen and Prince Philip’s steps this morn­ing to the English Mar­ket, we were de­lighted to find that it was just as mag­i­cal as they had de­scribed; that the stall­hold­ers were as wel­com­ing and that their pro­duce was as ir­re­sistible as the qual­ity of the fish­mon­gers’ jokes.”

He also an­nounced that an ‘hon­orary pros­per­ity con­sul’ is to be ap­pointed in Cork – the first such ap­point­ment by the UK out­side of Dublin.

“This is a tes­ta­ment to Cork’s sig­nif­i­cance,” said the prince, who spoke Ir­ish dur­ing the civic re­cep­tion, and again dur­ing a toast at a VIP din­ner in the Craw­ford Gallery last night.

Mc­Don­ald’s restau­rants here will be­gin the process of trans­fer­ring to pa­per straws in its restau­rants from Septem­ber. It fol­lows a busi­ness de­ci­sion to move plas­tic straws be­hind the counter to re­duce plas­tic waste and put the de­ci­sion for use in the hands of the cus­tomer. Cli­mate Ac­tion Min­is­ter De­nis Naugh­ten said: “This is a clear demon­stra­tion that large com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions are tak­ing their en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously and mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion by elim­i­nat­ing sin­gle use plas­tics.”

Bri­tain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Corn­wall, at the English Mar­ket, Cork, with Tá­naiste Si­mon Coveney, left, and Lord Mayor Tony Fitzger­ald, cen­tre.

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