Once regarded as the vanguard of Republican values, Sinn Fein’s leader Martin McGuinness met and shook hands with British monarch Elizabeth Windsor today, both in private and in the presence of an official photographer. The unprecedented event has provoked protest and some division among Irish nationalists and republicans.
The initial handshake took place in a room within Belfast’s Lyric theatre behind closed doors, and little is known of what took place. A second encounter, as the British monarch was leaving the theatre, was recorded by photographers and released to the media.
Windsor is the head of Britain’s armed forces, the occupying troops in the North of Ireland. McGuinness served for many years as a commander within the Provisional IRA, but is now the Deputy First Minister in the local power-sharing British administration, Stormont.
In a quiet space used by the theatre for creative learning, the two met privately and were joined by Windsor’s husband, Philip Sonderburg-Glucksburg (‘Prince Philip’ or ‘the Duke of Edinburgh’) the North’s First DUP’s Minister Peter Robinson, President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.
The meeting was seen as a provocative act by most republican groups and heavy rioting broke out in west Belfast last night.
The unrest followed clashes on Black mountain yesterday as up to a hundred loyalists attacked a small group of nationalist protesters with hatchets and hammers leaving at least three of the protesters hospitalised as they attempted to pulled apart a giant sign including the Irish Tricolour which was erected in opposition to the queen’s visit. There is continuing disturbances at the same location today as Unionists continue to disrupt the peaceful protest.
McGuinness has not commented on the attack on Innocent nationalists but did say as he left the Lyric Theatre this afternoon, that the meeting went “really well”. ” Asked how it was to meet the queen, he said that it was “very nice”.
Story source- Irish Republican News