The Queen’s death should inspire the island of Ireland to “complete the journey” that will deliver “true healing and reconciliation”, MPs have heard.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said her visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 was “groundbreaking” and said she reminded people that “forgiveness lies at the heart of her faith and that it can reconcile divided communities”.
The MP for Lagan Valley told the Commons: “During the most traumatic days of our troubled past in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty visited with us many times to show solidarity with her people in their darkest of hours.
“Her presence conveyed a deep sense of stability and offered hope to so many.
“One such visit was in 1976 in one of the most violent years of the Troubles. In her Christmas address later that year, Her Majesty spoke of a need for an end to the conflict and pointed the way to peace and reconciliation.”
Sir Jeffrey noted the Queen was “touched by the violence” of the Troubles in 1979 when the IRA assassinated her second cousin, Lord Mountbatten, in Co Sligo.
He said: “She shared the sense of loss felt by countless victims and her empathy and understanding offered comfort to so many from all backgrounds.
“She rose above that sense of loss to reach across divided communities in Northern Ireland and to offer hope. This is real leadership.”
Sir Jeffrey said the present day sees the island “still struggle to deal with the legacy of our troubled past”.
He described the Queen as a “bridge builder”, adding: “Your historic visit to the Republic of Ireland was a cathartic moment in British-Irish relations.
“The way you conducted yourself, the language you used and the message you brought help to lay to rest many of the ghosts of our shared history that have cast their shadows over relationships on these islands for centuries.
“It is my hope that your passing and the example you set will inspire us to even greater heights, and to complete the journey that will bring true healing and reconciliation to our troubled land.”