No photo of Queen meeting 'cowardly'
Martin McGuinness has told UTV it would be "cowardly" if the moment he shook the Queen's hand was not captured on camera.
Monday, 25 June 2012
Sinn Féin confirmed last week that the deputy First Minister will meet the monarch during her two-day visit to Northern Ireland.
However it later emerged that the historic handshake could take place behind doors in a private room, according to sources close to the planning.
Mr McGuinness has told UTV that he has no problem with a photograph being taken, adding that it would be "cowardly" not to.
"When I decide to do something I'm not concerned about who records it," he said.
For it not to be recorded I think it would be cowardly.
"I think it is very important that it is recorded for history but also to send a very powerful message to the world and to our own people that we are committing to moving forward in a decisive, sincere, genuine and honest way."
The meeting is expected to happen at a Co-operation Ireland event in Belfast on Wednesday, with the Queen and Irish President Michael D Higgins invited.
They are both joint patrons of the charity and are expected to attend alongside First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness.
UTV also asked the self-confessed former IRA commander what a younger Martin McGuinness would make of shaking the Queen's hand.
"The young Martin McGuinness, the one you're speaking about lived in different times in terrible times," he replied.
"There was conflict, war, occupation, injustice and discrimination.
"It's really irrelevant what a young martin McGuinness would think about it. What's important now is Martin McGuinness who is the deputy First Minister, involved in 20 years of negotiations, makes of this. It is the right thing to do."
Mr McGuinness also acknowledged that the meeting would be difficult for Queen, whose cousin, Lord Mountbatten, died in an IRA explosion off the Co Sligo coast in 1979.
He continued: "We as Irish republicans know we are not the only people to have suffered as a result of the conflict.
"Queen Elizabeth and her family lost a loved one as a result of the conflict and I think that what we need to recognise is that all of us are being a part of supporting the peace process.
"So yes, I think it is very important to acknowledge that she too lost a loved one."
Sinn Féin had refused to meet the Queen during her trip to the Republic of Ireland last year, which they said was premature.
During the landmark four-day visit last year, the Queen spoke of her sadness at the "heartache, turbulence and loss" shared by Britain and Ireland in a speech at Dublin Castle.
She said: "These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy."
One of the UDA's leaders has told UTV that Martin McGuinness meeting with the Queen is confirmation that the war is over.
"The handshake on Wednesday will make life a lot easier for people like ourselves in north Belfast involved in cross community stuff," said John Bunting.
"It gives us that bit of incentive so we can sit down with people and say to them that the war is over, now let's move on."
But a leading dissident republican has condemned the meeting.
Ciaran Cunningham from Republican Network for Unity says there will not now be talks between them and the Sinn Fein leadership.
"The appetite for engaging with the Sinn Féin leadership has significantly dropped," Mr Cunningham told UTV.
"Martin McGuinness and the Sinn Féin leadership, by deciding to meet with the British monarch almost appear to trying to put clear blue water between themselves and the republican socialist base in these areas.
"We speak to Sinn Féin supporters every day of the week and from what I can gather a significant number of them are bewildered by what is about to happen."
The Queen will arrive in Northern Ireland on Tuesday to begin her visit to region as part of UK-wide celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee.