Northern Ireland news

Video: Princess told 'Ireland belongs to the Irish' during royal couple's visit to north Belfast

A woman challenges the Princess of Wales on a brief walkabout on the Antrim Road in north Belfast, telling the royal that 'Ireland belongs to the Irish'. Picture by Liam McBurney

THE Princess of Wales was challenged by a woman on an impromptu meet and greet in north Belfast yesterday who told her "Ireland is for the Irish" .

The exchange unfolded when Kate and Prince William met wellwishers as they visited the PIPS suicide prevention charity in the predominantly nationalist Newington area of the Antrim Road.

The royal couple, who were on a one day visit to Northern Ireland, were shaking hands when the woman reached out and shook Kate's hand and while doing so said: "Nice to meet you but it would be better if it was when you were in your own country."

The woman, who appeared to be videoing the exchange on a mobile phone, added: "Ireland belongs to the Irish".

Kate smiled at the woman before moving on to shake hands with another well-wisher.

When meeting members of the public on her visit to Northern Ireland, the Princess of Wales was challenged by a woman who suggested Kate was not in her own country

— PA Media (@PA) October 6, 2022

The couple's visit to the PIPS charity saw them greeted by North Belfast Sinn Féin MP John Finucane and his colleague, Belfast lord mayor Tina Black.

Elyse Quinn (12) daughter of the charity's executive director Renee Quinn, presented the princess with a bouquet of flowers.

PIPS was founded in 2003 following the loss of 14 young people to suicide in Belfast over a short period of time the previous year.

Compelled to act, stakeholders from across the city came together to try to tackle the issue.

During their visit, William and Kate spoke with staff about their work helping people at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The charity also arranged for them to take part in an art therapy session, painting pumpkins, with some vulnerable children who have been supported by PIPS.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation has seen a significant rise in those reaching out for help.

That includes an increase of more than 500 percent among young people.

At the close of their visit, the prince and princess joined a group of volunteer counsellors in packing up the charity's Little Boxes of Hope.

The support packages are given to children following their time with PIPS to assist their ongoing recovery and ensure that their parents and guardians feel better equipped to cope.

PIPS care team manager Martina McIlkenny said: "It was fantastic that they were able to spend time with us and to learn more about the work we do. We know William and Kate have a passionate interest in promoting mental health, and it's a subject close to their heart.

"They were with us for longer than they had originally scheduled, and the children with us who met them were over the moon."

After the visit to PIPS, the couple travelled into Belfast city centre to view Trademarket, a new outdoor street-food and retail market.

Having opened its doors in July, the venue offers a place for different members of the community to come together to enjoy artisan food, drinks and products from local, independent vendors.

The couple then journeyed to Carrickfergus to meet with representatives of the Carrick Connect charity, which provides mentoring and outreach support for young people.

Mid and East Antrim mayor Noel Williams said it was a "huge honour" to welcome the couple, who in 2014 were granted the titles of Baron and Baroness of Carrickfergus by the late queen.

Northern Ireland news