NORTHERN IRELAND Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is to meet Queen Elizabeth II and shake hands with the monarch in a historic first in the North’s peace process, Sinn Féin has said.
At a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle in Dublin today a decision was taken that the party’s most senior member in the North and a former member of the IRA meet with the Queen next week.
Queen Elizabeth will be in Belfast at a luncheon being hosted by the cross-community charity Co-Operation Ireland next Wednesday when it is now expected that she will meet McGuinness for the first time.
The meeting will be a symbolic step in the peace process which has already seen the monarch visit Ireland last year when McGuinness and other Sinn Féin members did not attend events held in her honour including a State dinner at Dublin Castle.
The Co-Operation Ireland event will also be attended by Irish president Michael D Higgins and the North’s First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson.
On her visit to Ireland in May of last year, the Queen met and shook hands with the Sinn Féin mayor of Cashel, the late Michael Browne but this was not a meeting that was sanctioned by Sinn Féin.