Queen Begins Two-Day Visit to Northern Ireland
June 26, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
Queen to attend Enniskillen thanksgiving service and shake former IRA leader Martin McGuinness’s hand in two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson said the Queen’s visit would have been “unthinkable” even a few years ago. “This is a chance to move Northern Ireland a whole step forward,” he said. Due to security concerns, very few details about the itinerary of this visit have been officially released.
It is known that the Queen will the meeting with former IRA leader and Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness to shake his hand. In a BBC interview Mr McGuinness said: “This is about stretching-out the hand of peace and reconciliation to Queen Elizabeth.
“It’s another bit of history. It’s about recognising … that there have been many people who have been badly hurt as a result of state violence.” He acknowledged that British soldiers and the Royal Family (through the death of Lord Mountbatten) had suffered as a result of the Troubles.
The Queen will be attending a thanksgiving church service in Enniskillen, which senior Protestant and Catholic clergy are expected to attend. Enniskillen was the scene of an IRA bomb which killed 11 people on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.
Many feel this visit, as well as the Queen’s ground-breaking trip to the Irish Republic last year, has cemented a new era in British-Irish relations.
By Sarah Leyland
[Image courtesy of The Labour Party]