New Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has told republicans that Sinn Fein fully respects the attachment many unionists have to British “symbols and institutions” such as the royal family.
Her reconciliatory comments come at a time of intense speculation over whether Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness will meet the Queen when she travels here as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour.
Ms Anderson — who took her Strasbourg seat on Wednesday — told the party’s annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown that “shaping a genuine national reconciliation process crucially involves increased understanding, respect and reaching out to those from the unionist tradition”.
“Let me state very clearly that Sinn Fein fully acknowledges the attachment that many within the unionist section of Irish society have to a sense of Britishness and to symbols and institutions such as the English royal family — and we respect that,” she said.
However, there was surprise last week when Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she would not be attending the jubilee visit later this month, claiming Sinn Fein had not been consulted by the Northern Ireland Office over a Stormont event.
Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness later said the “insensitive” way in which the NIO had announced it meant “we do not have a do-able proposition” over a meeting with the Queen.
But in Dublin on Friday, Mr McGuinness said “if there is a serious proposition then it would be considered by the Sinn Fein leadership”. “But let me make it absolutely clear any decision that I am part of will be about ensuring that decision will enhance the peace process and will not in any way damage it,” he added.
Former Sinn Fein MLA Billy Leonard said yesterday he had a “hunch” it will take place.