Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness followed up his ground-breaking meeting with the Queen with a tough attack on British policy in Northern Ireland, accusing the Government of making "stupid and unhelpful decisions".
Speaking in London, he said the legacy of British policy in Ireland "has contaminated normal politics and normal relations between our islands for generations". His strong language is viewed in Belfast as an effort to reassure republican grassroots that his meeting with the Queen does not signify any softening of his republican credentials.
Although there has been little overt criticism of the meeting from the grassroots, republicans have acknowledged that some of those campaigning for inquiries into controversial Troubles deaths have been "hurt".
Mr McGuinness was therefore at pains to stress that he is not departing from the age-old republican assertion that the conflict is at root the fault of Britain. In a less aggressive part of his speech, he hoped his encounter with the Queen would become "a key building block" for a new relationship.
But he also criticised David Cameron for a lack of engagement with local politicians. He said this may have contributed to "stupid, damaging unhelpful" decisions over the jailing of two dissident republicans.
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