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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 28 November 2021
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SF leaders to discuss potential McGuinness meeting with Queen Elizabeth

The party’s Ard Comhairle will meet in Dublin this morning to discuss a potential meeting to coincide with the Jubilee.

Queen Elizabeth will be in Northern Ireland next week on her Jubilee tour - but has been invited to a charity event which does not form part of the official celebrations.
Queen Elizabeth will be in Northern Ireland next week on her Jubilee tour - but has been invited to a charity event which does not form part of the official celebrations.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire

THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL of Sinn Féin will meet this morning to discuss whether the party’s de facto leader in Northern Ireland, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, should accept an invitation to an event with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

The Ard Comhairle will decide whether McGuinness should accept an invitation to a Co-Operation Ireland event being held in Belfast next week – an event which coincides with the Queen’s visit to the North to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

Co-Operation Ireland, a charity which encourages cross-community understanding between the two main religious communities in the North, includes the British monarch and the President of Ireland as its co-patrons.

The luncheon in Belfast on Wednesday is therefore to be attended by Michael D Higgins as well as by the Queen – and the fact that the event is not an official part of the Jubilee celebrations may mean McGuinness could attend alongside the DUP’s First Minister, Peter Robinson.

“We have a number of very big outstanding issues that need to be resolved,” SF deputy president Mary Lou McDonald told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, saying the Ard Comhairle discussion would be “a debate” because the body “does not simply rubberstamp” the wishes of the party’s leaders.

Green and Orange

“They will be aware, of course, that we’re going to be discussing this matter in a context of the country is still partitioned; where there are very many people… who have had very, very bad experiences and suffered very grievously because of British rule in Ireland,” she said.

However, this was counterbalanced by the significant Unionist population in Ireland, with McDonald discussing “the reality that one million people who live in this country are unionist, that it is that monarch’s jubilee year, that she’s visiting, and so on”.

McDonald said that while the “project” for Irish republicans was ultimately the reunification of the Republic and the North, “the new Republic cannot be a cold house for anyone” and that the discussion about a potential meeting between McGuinness would be considered in the context of “a genuine reconciliation between the green and the orange”.

The Queen met and shook hands with the Sinn Féin mayor of Cashel, the late Michael Browne, during her visit to Ireland last year – though the party had decided as a unit not to attend any events at which the Queen would be present.

Read: Thousands gather as Thames flotilla marks Queen’s 60 years

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Gavan Reilly

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