McGuinness to attend Queen banquet

McGuinness to attend Queen banquet

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will attend a state banquet at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen, Sinn Féin has confirmed.

Mr McGuinness will also be a special guest at other events organised during the official visit by Irish President Michael D Higgins to the UK next week.In a statement, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Mr McGuinness will visit Windsor Castle and attend other official events in London during the four-day state visit, which officially begins on Tuesday."The President's visit must be viewed against the backdrop of the huge political changes that have taken place in recent years," Mr Adams said."It is within this context that I can confirm that deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will accept an invitation to attend all events as part of the State visit.CHAR(13) + CHAR(10) CHAR(13) + CHAR(10)"While Martin McGuinness's involvement in President Higgins's State visit may not be welcome by opponents of change, it is yet another example of Sinn Féin's commitment to an inclusive future based on tolerance and equality.CHAR(13) + CHAR(10) CHAR(13) + CHAR(10)"This decision may cause difficulty for some Irish republicans in light of ongoing difficulties in the north but, I would appeal to them to view this positively in the context of republican and democratic objectives and the interests of unity and peace on this island," Mr Adams added.The Queen formally invited President Higgins and his wife Sabina to stay at Windsor Castle, in what will be the first official state visit by an Irish head of state to the UK, last year.The ground-breaking visit follows the Queen's historic trip to Ireland in May 2011.At the time Mr McGuinness had snubbed the gala banquet held in Her honour at Dublin Castle.Over a year later, the Queen and Mr McGuinness made history when they met and shook hands in Belfast's Lyric Theatre.President Higgins and his wife are due to arrive at London Heathrow Airport on Monday afternoon.They will stay with the royals at Windsor Castle until Friday morning.The State Banquet for the President of Ireland held at Windsor Castle will take place on Tuesday night - the Queen and President Higgins will both make speeches at the start of the event.

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