Queen meeting 'big ask' for SF - Adams

Published Monday, 28 May 2012
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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has told UTV it would be a "huge thing" if someone from his party met the Queen - a prospect he would not rule out.

Queen meeting 'big ask' for SF - Adams
Mr Adams spoke to UTV about the possibility of meeting the Queen. (© UTV)

The comments come ahead of a visit from the monarch to Northern Ireland, which is expected to take place to mark the jubilee celebrations.

"It's a big ask," the Louth TD said, speaking at the party's Ard Fheis in Co Kerry. "It took 100 years for it to happen here in this state.

"The island is still partitioned, probably, most certainly, what Queen Elizabeth said in this state helped to normalise the relationship between this state and the English monarchy.

"But as I said it took 100 years for that to happen, but it would be a huge thing, Irish Republicans, all of the legacy issues, the continued partition of the island.

"It would be a huge thing for us to do."

Sinn Féin refused to meet the Queen during her trip to the Republic of Ireland last year, which they said was premature.

However the Mayor of Cashel, Co Tipperary - Michael Browne - raised eyebrows when he became the first party member to shake her hand.

During the landmark, four-day visit, the Queen spoke of her sadness at the "heartache, turbulence and loss" shared by Britain and Ireland in a speech at Dublin Castle.

"These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy," said the Queen - whose cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA explosion off the Co Sligo coast in 1979.

"To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy."

The bunting is already up in many towns across NI for the upcoming celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, with thousands of people wanting to meet the monarch.

It is thought deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness could be amongst them and could become the first republican leader to officially shake hands with Queen Elizabeth.

"I'm not sure if that would be an issue for myself personally," Sinn Féin senator Kathryn Reilly told UTV.

"Our party would have a policy on it and as a democratically run party and when we look at the arguments tossed around, I'm sure we'd make a decision."

However political commentator Alex Kane said such a move could still be viewed with some suspicion by unionists.

"I think everything Sinn Féin does is a ploy - and I'm not objecting to that," he explained. "That is the nature of politics.

"Every movement is based on what you do and what you get, but I think the general unionist view is one of suspicion."

In his address at party conference over the weekend, Mr McGuinness spoke of his respect for unionist and British identity.

The comments came after it was revealed that Sinn Féin is in talks with members of the Protestant community and churches in NI to discuss the subject of reconciliation.

The Stormont leader said: "I recognise that there are one million people who are British and let me state here and now, that as a proud Irish republican, I not only recognise the Unionist and British identity - I respect it and in return all I seek for my Irish identity and tradition is to be respected as well."

And while the remarks appeared to be paving the way for the forthcoming Royal visit, Mr Adams nevertheless insisted a meeting would be a massive step for his party.

"The reality is that we do respect and that we are very calm about the unionist sense of allegiance, as Martin said in his remarks," he continued.

"But it would be a huge thing for us to do."

© UTV News
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12 Comments
lorna in limavady wrote (845 days ago):
Sinn Fein dont worry i would be sure she would not look forward to meet the men who sent young soldiers home in coffins.and making life difficult for the bomb disposal men who put their lives on the line dealing with what they left behind. She is bigger than small minded people who can't get over the long distant past .events that happened long before she was born." I'm fed up putting comments on but never getting my point through"
Realist in England wrote (845 days ago):
Ryan - that is unfair. I am also absolutely against the notion that someone can be born with a right to rule over people. The idea of hereditary monarchy is completely against everything I believe. I take my belief in the equality of Man very seriously - when I received my undergrad degree I was supposed to bow to some uni official for example. I told my College in advance that, as a republican, I would not bow to anyone and I did not bow. What I will say is this, I respect the Unionist people too - they are Irish after all and their opinions are not particularly more distasteful to me than many of those of Fine Gael or those Progressive Democrat guys when they were around. More than being Irish, however, Unionists are people. Whilst such a truism may seem irrelevant, possibly even bordering on racist by implying a need to say it, I state it because it appears from much of what I read on here that people only pay lip service to mutual respect whilst utterly failing to practice what they preach, so to speak. Whilst I disagree fundamentally with Unionist beliefs regarding Ireland and monarchy, it would shame my principles to refuse to meet the woman. If I did meet her, I would be courteous but would push the occupation issue that you mention. I would certainly not bow. I met Bertie Ahern once and did exactly that, but I am an individual and easily brushed aside. PSF, for some reason, have the support of a large proportion of the Irish people and that makes them much harder to ignore. Personally, I would expect them to talk to anyone and everyone in order to push the idea of Irish independence, but also to demonstrate the sort of inclusiveness that Unionists deserve and will expect when they eventually end up in a new republic. Claiming that it is "too early" to meet some woman they respect (when, given her age, it will very soon be "too late" to meet her) is petty and will do nothing towards aiding national reconciliation. Norman - learn to spell. Once you've done that, learn some history. The birth of republicanism in Ireland, as in much of Europe (post-Roman republic anyway), was a late 18th century affair. As for being 'parochial', surely Unionists are more guilty of that in wanting to split Ireland and rule their little bit by their own rules. Generally, your word salad of a post is fairly meaningless.
Earl Grey in Exile wrote (845 days ago):
"Liz Two" has passed the sugar-bowl with Nicolae Ceausescu,Idi Amin,Robert Mugabwe and Prince Hirohito(not to mention Bush,Blair and Obama). "one lump or two Marty and Gerry) ?
Tom in Crossmaglen wrote (845 days ago):
Of course the english queen wants to shake hands and meet the leaders of the people in the north east of Ireland. It's only good manners after all.
Ryan in Beal Feirste wrote (846 days ago):
As a republican I refuse to recognise any monarchy regardless of which state they claim to represent. Although I fully respect the unionist culture and respect whoever they pledge their allegiance too, for me, as an Irish republican this is still too soon. If I can remember correctly, Sinn Féin refused to meet the prince of Monaco at his state visit to Ireland a few years back, what makes the queen of England any different, this is ignoring the fact she heads a state that occupies 6 counties of Ireland.
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