Prince Charles meets Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams

19. 05. 2015

Prince Charles meets Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams

Prince Charles has met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the start of his four-day visit to Ireland.

Mr Adams was among a number of politicians to greet the prince at a reception at National University of Ireland Galway.


It was the first meeting in the Republic of Ireland between Sinn Féin's leadership and a Royal Family member.


Mr Adams and his colleague Martin McGuinness also had a private meeting with Prince Charles.

That meeting took place after the handshake and was in a private room. It lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.


Afterwards, Mr Adams said: "Today's meeting with Prince Charles is a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation arising from the peace process.

"We are all living in a time of transition for the people of the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.


"This week's engagements are part of the process of building relationships, breaking down barriers to understanding and creating the space - as Seamus Heaney defined it - 'in which hope can grow.'


Speaking earlier, Mr Adams said he hoped the meeting would help the reconciliation process.


Asked if there was anything specific he wanted to say to the prince, Mr Adams said there was, "but I'll say it to him".

"I don't have any expectations other than this being an engagement which I hope is symbolic and practical, and will assist that entire process," he said.


"There's a lot of hurt, a lot of grief, but we have to make sure all our steps are forward," he said.


In a speech to the university afterwards, Prince Charles paid tribute to the "magic about Ireland that is totally unique".

"Having first had the great joy of coming to Ireland 20 years ago now, for the first time in 1995, then again in 2002, each time I have been so overwhelmed and so deeply touched by the extraordinary kindness, the welcome, the enthusiasm and indeed the fun of being in Ireland," the prince said.

He said of the Irish people: "You raise our spirits in so many ways."


He also joked that he was "a little too old to be able to learn some of the steps from the Irish dancing routine" performed for the Royal couple after their arrival.

In 2012, Sinn Féin's deputy leader Martin McGuinness met the Queen in Belfast in his role as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister.


The handshake between the Queen and the former IRA commander, at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, was considered historic.


However, he was not the first party member to meet with British royalty.


In May 2011, Michael Browne, the Sinn Féin mayor of Cashel shook hands with the Queen in County Tipperary.


The meeting was not approved by the Sinn Féin leadership.


Speaking ahead of Tuesday's meeting, Mr McGuinness said: "There's a responsibility on all of us to try to use these acts of reconciliation to encourage other people to join with us on the journey.


"As far as I can see, we are dealing with people like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles who like me wish to rise about old enmities and are not interested in creating obstacles for people on the route to peace."

Source: BBC NEWS


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Prince Charles meets Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams