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Ex-IRA man McGuinness, Queen to meet for first time

posted 23 Jun 2012, 03:12 by Mpelembe   [ updated 23 Jun 2012, 03:13 ]

The British Queen is to meet senior ex-IRA figure Martin McGuinness for the first time

DUBLIN, IRELAND  (RTE POOL) - Former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander and current deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness will meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth for the first time next week, marking a milestone in the province's peace process.

The queen has never met a senior figure in the now-defunct IRA, which killed her relative Lord Mountbatten in 1979, or its political wing Sinn Fein. The party decided on Friday (June 22) to sanction the meeting that would have seemed inconceivable a generation ago.

McGuinness, a hero among Irish nationalists who fought a bitter three-decade war against British rule, will meet the 86-year-old monarch on Wednesday (June 27) during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Adams said the party's decision was not unanimous but that a clear majority were in favour of the meeting. He also confirmed that McGuinness would "of course" shake hands with the queen.

Northern Ireland's Unionist first minister Peter Robinson said in a statement the move represented a step forward and he was glad that McGuinness had accepted the invite.