Queen's invitation sends 'powerful message' - McGuinness

Thursday 10 April 2014 21.57
Martin McGuinness said the reconciliation phase of the peace process has taken a very powerful step forward
Martin McGuinness said the reconciliation phase of the peace process has taken a very powerful step forward

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the invitation to him from Queen Elizabeth to visit her home clearly sends a very powerful message.

He told RTÉ’s Six One that it showed that the Queen out of all the elements of Britishness even in the North of Ireland, whether Unionist political parties or organisations such as the Orange Order, was ahead of everyone else and that everyone else needed to catch up.

Mr McGuinness said the reconciliation phase of the peace process has taken a very powerful step forward as a result of this week’s events.

He said the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland will be overjoyed at the way the President of Ireland has been received in Britain in the course of what has been an incredible week.

Mr McGuinness said this week will be noted for important acts of generosity, peacemaking and reconciliation and that this will be welcomed not only by all of the people of Ireland but also by the people of Britain.

He said it was quite clear as a result of the Queen's visit to Dublin and the handshake between them 18 months ago that we were dealing with a woman who wanted to do these things for herself and not because she was being told by any government, but because it was something that she wanted to do.

He said he had discussed these things in conversations with the Queen.

He said that at the time of Queen Elizabeth's Dublin visit Sinn Féin had decided that it was not ready for such a visit at that time.

Mr McGuinness said he had worked very hard prior to Christmas in trying to reach agreement with Richard Hass.

He said the two Unionist parties had not come on board and that the difficulty was the issue of dealing with the past and how to put in place a menu of options that would meet the needs of victims.

The Deputy First Minister said that the collective hurt that is in all our communities needed to be dealt with and that there was a very real danger that each community would only concentrate on its own victims.

Mr McGuinness said that there is a need to cross lines and to talk about all victims.

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