Former President Mary Robinson has said next weeks State visit by President Michael D Higgins to Britain is the most important rounding off of a gradual realisation that both countries have to have normal relations. 

President Higgins will visit Britain for four days next week- the first such visit by an Irish Head of State.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mrs Robinson said the visit is the last step in the full normalisation at the highest level and will be a very good moment for both Ireland and Britain.

Mrs Robinson, who is currently the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, also said that not enough effort is being made to protect people in countries where there is conflict.

She said that the European Union had promised to send 1000 troops to the Central African Republic and has been very slow in providing them.

She said that the 20th anniversary of the conflict in Rwanda is an opportunity to look back and also to look forward.

Mrs Robinson said that since 1994 when she was the first head of state to visit the region, it had moved forward in a very disciplined way and had done wonders in areas such as health and education.

She said it had become a model of a sort of development in the region where in countries such as neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, there is a need to have more state authority and to control armed groups.

Mrs Robinson said there was now a real desire in the region to get rid of all armed groups.