'Historic handshake' for Queen and ex-IRA leader Martin McGuinness


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The Queen arrived in Northern Ireland yesterday for a two-day visit which will centre on what is regarded as a historic handshake with Martin McGuinness, the one-time IRA commander who is now a leading politician.

The occasion has been scheduled for today at a cultural event in Belfast. The visit is part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee tour but Mr McGuinness, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, has been careful to specify that the encounter is not part of the Jubilee events.

Yesterday thousands lined the streets as the Queen and Prince Philip visited Enniskillen in County Fermanagh for a church service, also entering a Catholic church and meeting Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish Catholic church.

She also met relatives of some of the victims of what was known as the "Poppy Day" bombing in 1987, when an IRA device killed eleven civilians in the town. This was seen as a gesture to reassure troubles victims that they have not been forgotten.