Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

McGuinness to attend royal banquet

Martin McGuinness, centre, will attend a state banquet at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen, during an official visit by Irish President Michael D Higgins to the UK next week

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness will attend a state banquet at Windsor Castle hosted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth during an official visit by Michael D Higgins, it has been confirmed.

The Sinn Fein politician will also be a special guest at other events during the historic visit by the Irish President to the UK next week.

The former MP, who refused to sit in the British parliament because of an oath of allegiance to the monarch, had snubbed a gala banquet in honour of the Queen at Dublin Castle during her groundbreaking trip to the Republic in 2011.

But in a statement, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams confirmed Mr McGuinness would be visiting Windsor Castle near London and other official events during the four-day state visit beginning on Tuesday.

"While Martin McGuinness's involvement in President Higgins's state visit may not be welcome by opponents of change, it is yet another example of Sinn Fein's commitment to an inclusive future based on tolerance and equality," he said.

"This decision may cause difficulty for some Irish republicans in light of ongoing difficulties in the north (of Ireland) but I would appeal to them to view this positively in the context of republican and democratic objectives and the interests of unity and peace on this island."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "There is a long-standing practice of not commenting in individual invitations. That said, Her Majesty is greatly looking forward to this historic state visit and welcoming all guests to Windsor Castle."

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