Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness to attend Windsor Castle banquet

Sunday 06 April 2014 10.45
Martin McGuinness shook hands with Britain's Queen Elizabeth in June 2012
Martin McGuinness shook hands with Britain's Queen Elizabeth in June 2012

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has accepted an invitation to attend the Windsor Castle banquet and several other events during the State visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain next week.

The decision was confirmed following a meeting of Sinn Féin’s officer board in Dundalk this afternoon.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the visit by President Higgins must be viewed "against the backdrop of huge political changes that have taken place in recent years – changes in which republicans have played a leadership role".

Mr Adams reiterated that achieving a united Ireland remains a fundamental goal for Sinn Féin.

He said that it is also committed to a future based on equality and mutual respect.

Mr McGuinness has been invited to the banquet at Windsor Castle next Tuesday night in his capacity as Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister.

Other guests will include Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Former president Mary McAleese and her husband Martin have also been invited to the Windsor Castle function.

In May 2011, Mr McGuinness declined an invitation to the banquet hosted by President McAleese at Dublin Castle during the historic visit of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Mr Robinson had attended the event.

A year later, after elaborate behind the scenes diplomacy, Queen Elizabeth met and shook hands with Mr McGuinness at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

The platform created was a reception hosted by Co-Operation Ireland of which President Higgins and Queen Elizabeth are joint patrons.

Mr McGuinness will be a guest at a function in London's Guildhall and will also attend the concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday night.