Queen publicly shakes hands with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness after historic meeting

 

The Queen publicly shook hands with the former IRA commander and current Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness today, in a move that has seen Anglo-Irish relations take a momentous step forward.

The historic encounter would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, but the ongoing success of the peace process and the Queen’s conciliatory words and gestures during a visit to the Republic of Ireland last year paved the way for the meeting.

The Queen and Mr McGuinness, now Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, initially shook hands behind closed doors in the McGrath Suite within Belfast’s Lyric theatre during an event celebrating the arts in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

But the pair shook hands again, this time publicly, as the Queen left to continue her Diamond Jubilee tour of Northern Ireland. As they shook hands for a second time, Mr McGuinness wished the Queen well in Irish and told her that the phrase meant: "Goodbye and God's speed."

It is understood that during the first meeting, which lasted around five minutes, Mr McGuinness welcomed the Queen in Irish. He is said to have commented briefly on the Queen's visit to Dublin last year and in particular her comments regarding all the victims of the conflict.

They pair were joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

Asked by reporters as he was leaving how his meeting with the Queen had gone, Mr McGuinness said it had been "very nice".

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

The spokesman added that Mr McGuinness told the Queen that their meeting was a "powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership".

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson met Mr McGuinness this morning and added that he was relaxed.

"It had obviously gone very well," he said.

"This will move Northern Ireland on to a whole new plane. After all the trauma of Northern Ireland, everyone is looking forward.

"It is about a shared future, not a shared-out future."

He said it was absolutely appropriate that when the Queen visits parts of the UK, she meets local politicians, democratically elected, pursuing their democratic political goals by peaceful means.

Mr Paterson added that it built on the success of the Queen's visit to the Republic of Ireland last year.

"None of this could have happened a few years ago so it is all looking to the future."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?