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No decision on photo of Queen-McGuinness handshake

A spokesperson for the UK government has said that arrangements for the historic meeting have still not been finalised.

Queen Elizabeth II in Oxfordshire yesterday.
Queen Elizabeth II in Oxfordshire yesterday.
Image: Darren Fletcher/The Sun/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THERE HAS STILL been no confirmation of whether or not a photo of Martin McGuinness’ historic encounter with Queen Elizabeth will be released when the pair meet in Belfast tomorrow.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are arriving in Northern Ireland this morning as part of a two-day trip to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

Her Majesty will also attend a luncheon being hosted by Co-Operation Ireland tomorrow where its expected she will meet the Deputy First Minister and Sinn Féin MLA and shake his hand.

There has been much speculation as to whether or not a photo of the meeting and handshake would be made public. A spokesperson for the UK government’s Northern Ireland office said today that no arrangements had yet been finalised.

“The expectations are that it will not be a media event,” the spokesperson told TheJournal.ie but this does not mean that a photo will not be released after the event.

Asked if it was unusual for arrangements not to be finalised at such a late stage, the spokesperson said that “whole episode is unusual”.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband will visit Enniskillen in County Fermanagh later today where she will attend a service of thanksgiving. Tomorrow she will travel to Stormont to attend a garden party along with 20,000 other people.

Plans for the historic handshake will be separate to the Diamond Jubilee events and will take place at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast with president Michael D Higgins also in attendance.

McGuinness has told The Irish Times that he hopes there will be a photograph of his handshake with the Queen and said that he views his decision to meet the monarch as “me stepping up to the plate”.

RTÉ adds that the former IRA member  has said that when he greets the Queen he will be symbolically shaking the hand of every unionist in the North.

Read: Queen Elizabeth arrives in Northern Ireland for two-day Jubilee visit

Read: McGuinness meeting with Queen ‘a major challenge for Republicans’ – Adams

Read: Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness to meet Queen Elizabeth

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Hugh O'Connell

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