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April 08, 2014 AT 10:45 AM
President Michael Higgins has become the first Irish head of state to make a state visit to Britain, crowning a big improvement in historically fraught relations between Dublin and its former colonial master. Clashes over British-ruled Northern Ireland saw more than 3,600 killed from the 1960s onward until a 1998 peace deal largely ended the conflict. Addressing both houses of Britain's parliament, a privilege only accorded to a few foreign leaders including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, Higgins described that 1998 agreement as a key milestone but said there was more to be done.