Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has given his strongest indication to date that he may be prepared to meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth II is expected to visit Northern Ireland during the year as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations.

Last May, Sinn Féin declined to attend any of the functions, including a dinner at Dublin Castle, when the Queen paid her first state visit to Ireland.

Mr McGuinness said any decision will be a matter for the party, but he indicated that he wants to been seen as a representative of all the people in Northern Ireland.

He said he is in a very important position as Deputy First Minister, equal with First Minister Peter Robinson.

Mr McGuinness said: "I think it is important to recognise that I'm Deputy First Minister for all the people, not just Republicans, Nationalists or those Catholics who think I should be supported in this administration.

"I want to be Deputy First Minister for everyone, for the Unionist people, for the Loyalists, for the Protestants, for the dissenters and those who don't believe in anything.

"As regards how we'd deal with the situation, there'll be some dialogue and discussion about what we might have to deal with in the period ahead.

"I'm sure it'll be done in a civilised and cordial fashion. Obviously, I'd have some of my own ideas of how we should approach such a situation."

Reflecting on the Queen's visit to Dublin, Mr McGuinness said: "Was I pleased that she spoke Irish at Dublin Castle? I was.

"Was I pleased that she stood very reverently to honour those who had given their lives in the Easter Rising for Ireland's freedom? I was impressed by that.

"But what was I most impressed with? I was most impressed with her speech in Dublin Castle when she talked about how we could all have wished that things could have been done differently or not at all.

"I think that when she said that - that was her acknowledgement - this is my interpretation - that Britain could have done an awful lot of things better in the past.

“So all of that has to be taken into account before final decisions are made."