Queen visits Catholic church in Northern Ireland

The Queen made her first visit to a Catholic church in Northern Ireland today at the start of a historic two-day visit which will also include a meeting with the former IRA commander Martin McGuinness.

The monarch wore a powder blue coat and hat with white detail and a shamrock brooch for the first day of the historic trip

Gordon Rayner
The Telegraph [UK]
26 Jun 2012

After the unqualified success of the Queen’s first visit to the Republic of Ireland last year, the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Ulster marks another milestone in Anglo-Irish relations.

Although the Queen has been to Northern Ireland 19 times before, her bold itinerary includes visits that would have been unthinkable little more than a decade ago.

The focal point of the trip will be tomorrow’s meeting with Sinn Fein MP Mr McGuinness, who is now deputy first minister in the Stormont assembly but was an IRA commander when the terrorist group murdered the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten, in 1979.

The Queen, so long regarded as a target by Mr McGuinness, is expected to shake hands with him when she meets him tomorrow, a moment that will be every bit as important to the peace process as her arrival in Dublin last year.

In Enniskillen, where 11 people were killed by an IRA bomb planted under a war memorial on Remembrance Sunday in 1987, every step the Queen took was laden with significance.

For the past 40 years, security around Royal visits to Northern Ireland has been so tight that they remain secret until the moment they happen.

But this time, the Queen’s itinerary was published in advance, meaning she was greeted by cheering crowds waving Union flags in County Fermanagh, some of whom had stood in the rain from 4.30am to catch sight of her…

…The Queen and Mr McGuinness are set to meet initially in private alongside a handful of dignitaries and while a photograph of the moment was ruled out last week, sources have now said discussions are ongoing around allowing the handshake to be recorded.

It comes after the Queen’s groundbreaking visit to the Republic of Ireland last year when she laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, which honours republicans who died fighting British rule, followed by a tour of the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association before she spoke Irish at a banquet in her honour…

The complete article, and video, is at The Telegraph.

Related articles at The Telegraph:

The photograph above from The Daily Mail article (with video), Twenty-five years after IRA bombers murdered 12, the Queen receives joyous welcome in Enniskillen ahead of historic handshake with Martin McGuinness

Update: “And here it is. The Handshake.” via WorldIrish

HRH Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Martin McGuinness. Click on the image to enlarge.

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