McGuinness hints at Queen meeting

Martin McGuinness said meeting the Queen would be a huge ask.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuiness has given his clearest indication yet that meeting the Queen is a distinct possibility, saying he will not do anything to undermine the peace process.

Friday, 15 June 2012
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The Royal visit to Northern Ireland will take place later this month, and the deputy First Minister claims he has yet to make a decision on whether to shake hands with the monarch.

Speaking in Dublin on Friday, Mr McGuinness said any "serious proposition [...] would be considered by the Sinn Féin leadership".

"But let me make it absolutely clear any decision that I am part of will be about ensuring that decision will enhance the peace process and will not in any way damage it."

Mr McGuinness was in Dublin attending the North South Ministerial Council with First Minister Peter Robinson, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and ministers from both sides of the border.

"Nothing that I will do, nothing that I will say will be done in any way to undermine the incredible progress that we have made," Mr McGuinness explained, "not just in the north but throughout this island, ensuring that we continue to work for reconciliation, and that we continue to stretch ourselves to understand the important contributions that politicians in particular can make in relation to giving leadership to our people."

Paying tribute to the Queen's visit to Dublin last year, Mr Kenny referenced the symbolic gesture made by the monarch at the Garden of Remembrance when she bowed in honour for those who died for Irish freedom.

However, he said the issue of a handshake between the Queen and Mr McGuinness was not something that another political party should interfere with.

Mr McGuinness said that any meeting with the Queen would be a huge compromise for him as an Irish Republican.

"I think that from my perspective I'm, as always, going to approach these matters in a very sensible way, recognising the allegiances of others and recognising their right to honour the person that they would regard as their Queen."

Earlier this week, Mr McGuinness said there is currently no "doable proposition" for a representative of his party to meet with the Queen.

He also said Sinn Féin was taken by surprise at the announcement that a Diamond Jubilee party would be held in the grounds of the Stormont Estate during the Queen's two day trip on 26-27 June.

But that was rebutted by Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who claimed every party in Northern Ireland was aware of plans for the Queen's visit.