Queen in historic handshake with ex-IRA commander

Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness on Wednesday in a highly symbolic moment in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The initial handshake between the queen and McGuinness, who is now deputy first minister of the British province, took place behind closed doors in a Belfast theatre.

The two then shook hands a second time for the cameras as the queen left the building.

McGuinness held the monarch's hand for a few moments and she smiled as he spoke to her in Irish, telling her the words meant: "Goodbye and God speed."

He told reporters later the meeting had been "very nice", without elaborating.

Later crowds of flag-waving supporters lined the route to Northern Ireland's parliament buildings, Stormont, as the queen and her husband Prince Philip joined 22,000 guests for a garden party before leaving for home.

They arrived in an open-topped vehicle -- another sign of the improved security situation in the province.

The handshake is seen as an important milestone in Anglo-Irish relations after three decades of sectarian violence, known as "The Troubles", which largely ended with the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the McGuinness handshake had "taken relations between the two countries to a new level".

It came on the second day of the queen's visit to the province, which on Tuesday took her to Enniskillen, the scene of a notorious 1987 Irish Republican Army bombing which killed 11 people.

McGuinness was a senior commander in the IRA when the paramilitary group killed the queen's cousin Louis Mountbatten in 1979 by bombing his boat while he was on holiday in County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.

His Sinn Fein party, the political wing of the now-defunct IRA, continues to reject British rule of Northern Ireland.

In the eyes of republicans, the queen is commander-in-chief of an army that killed 13 people during a civil rights march in 1972, an event known as Bloody Sunday.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the meeting had brought the process of relationship building "onto a new plane."

Earlier this week McGuinness said that by shaking the queen's hand he would be "shaking the hands of hundreds of thousands of unionists".

The first handshake came in a brief meeting when they were joined by Prince Philip, Northern Ireland's unionist first minister Peter Robinson, Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

It took place on the sidelines of a cross-border charity arts event at the Lyric Theatre, in a room with curtains drawn.

Sinn Fein said McGuinness told the queen that their encounter, which comes a year after she made a landmark visit to the Republic of Ireland, was a "powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership".

In their meeting, McGuinness reportedly commented on the queen's May 2011 visit to Dublin and the remarks she made then expressing her sympathy for victims on both sides of the conflict.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "He emphasised the need to acknowledge the pain of all victims of the conflict and their families."

President Higgins said the meeting marked "another important step on the journey to reconciliation on this island."

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said the event signalled "a shared future", noting that a few years ago "none of this could have happened."

"This is a moment in Northern Ireland's history that will shine in our collective memory," he added.

Signs of the former tensions resurfaced overnight, however, when around 100 missile-throwing youths clashed with police in Belfast, injuring nine officers.

Police said more than 20 petrol bombs were thrown in the Broadway area of the city.

The royal couple also visited the Titanic Belfast visitor centre Wednesday, near where the ill-fated liner was built.

The attraction opened earlier this year for the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York when 1,500 people died.

The two-day trip was part of the queen's diamond jubilee celebrations, marking her 60th year on the throne, but Buckingham Palace stressed that the McGuinness meeting was not part of those celebrations.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. Pagdilao stressed that it has been more than a month since De Lima announced to the media that the DOJ would be …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options