Irish Time

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Handshake Takes place Amid Ongoing Tension








Handshake Takes place Amid Ongoing Tension


 Provisional Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness met and shook hands with British monarch
 Elizabeth Windsor today, both in private and in the presence of an
 official photographer. The unprecented event has provoked protest and
 division among Irish nationalists and republicans.

 The initial handshake took place in a room within Belfast's Lyric
 theatre behind closed doors, and little is known of what took place. A
 second encounter, as the British monarch was leaving the theatre, was
 recorded by photographers and released to the media.

 Windsor is the head of Britain's armed forces, the occupying troops in
 the North of Ireland. McGuinness served for many years as a commander
 within the Provisional IRA, but is now the Deputy First Minister in the
 local power-sharing administration in the north of Ireland.

 In a quiet space used by the theater for creative learning, the two met
 privately and were joined by Windsor's husband, Philip
 Sonderburg-Glucksburg ('Prince Philip' or 'the Duke of Edinburgh') the
 North's First Minister Peter Robinson, President Michael D Higgins and
 his wife Sabina.

 A Sinn Fein spokesman said that in that meeting, Mr McGuinness
 "emphasised the need to acknowledge the pain of all victims of the
 conflict and their families." He said Mr McGuinness told Windsor that
 their meeting was a "powerful signal that peace-building requires
 leadership".

 The meeting was seen as a provocative act by some republican groups and
 heavy rioting broke out in west Belfast last night. The PSNI said nine
 of its members were injured as petrol bombs were thrown near the Falls
 Road.

 The violence followed clashes on Black mountain yesterday as loyalists
 attacked nationalist protestors and pulled apart a giant sign erected in
 opposition to the queen's visit.  There were reports of continuing
 disturbances at the same location today.

 Twenty thousand loyalists are currently gathering in the grounds of
 Stormont parliament buildings for a 'party' to mark the royal visit and
 the 60th anniversary of Windsor's coronation.

 Photographs of the encounter have been published in the major
 international media this afternoon, and most have hailed the event as a
 sign of peace in Ireland.

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