Gerry Adams in 'meeting of minds' with Prince Charles
The Prince of Wales has begun a four-day tour of Ireland, north and south
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has claimed he had a meeting of minds talking to the Prince of Wales about lives lost in Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict.
On the opening day of his trip to Ireland, Charles and the republican leader shared a historic handshake to set the tone for the symbolically charged four-day visit before the men held a 10-minute private discussion.
Mr Adams said the two men expressed regrets over deaths in the Troubles and spoke about the 1979 IRA bombing in which his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was murdered, and other atrocities.
"Both he and we expressed our regret for what happened from 1968 onwards," Mr Adams said.
"We were of a common mind and the fact that the meeting took place, it obviously was a big thing for him to do and a big thing for us to do."
The poignant royal visit will take an emotional turn tomorrow when Charles visits the assassination site in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, and meets some of those who pulled the earl and the other dead and injured from the Atlantic.
Charles agreed to the meeting at the National University of Ireland Galway after a request by the Sinn Fein president, a move which would have been unthinkable until a few years ago.
Lord Mountbatten, the 79-year-old cousin of the Queen, was targeted by the IRA as he set off with family and a local teenager to gather lobster pots and fish for shrimp 600 yards from the harbour of the normally peaceful fishing village of Mullaghmore.
He was murdered with Lady Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of the earl's daughter, his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, and 14-year-old Paul Maxwell, from Killynure, Enniskillen.
It is understood royal sources are looking on the meeting with Mr Adams as productive and conciliatory and that due credit is being given to the Queen.
The Royal couple concluded the first day of their tour by joining Irish president Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina for a private dinner. They dined at Lough Cutra Castle in south County Galway.
The historic building, which overlooks the picturesque Lough Cutra, provided a grand setting for the Royals' final engagement.
On arrival, the couples greeted each other in the stone-tiled hallway before retiring to the ornate Gough room. It is understood Charles and President Higgins developed a good rapport during the latter's state visit to the UK last year.
They again spent time in each other's company when both attended commemorative events in Turkey last month to mark the centenary of the First World War's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.
On the menu at the castle tonight was blanched Highgrove asparagus to start, followed by pan seared halibut, with pannacotta and poached Highgrove rhubarb for dessert.
Irish coral gift for Charles
BY DAVID YOUNG
The Prince of Wales has been presented with a piece of fossil coral from Mullaghmore ahead of his visit to the scene of Lord Mountbatten's murder.
The 330 million-year-old gift, cut from the shoreline of the Co Sligo fishing village, was given to Charles as he toured Ireland's Marine Institute in west Galway with the Irish premier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
University College Cork geology professor Andrew Wheeler, who presented the gift, said he hoped the polished coral would provide Charles with another perspective on Mullaghmore.
"It's 330 million years old," he said. "All of that time it's been lying there. It grew in warm tropical seas next to a land mass with no name and which had no flag. It's seen the tribes of Ireland come and go. It's seen the Normans, the Plantaganets, the Tudors, the British Empire, the Troubles - it's seen all of those things.
"But that history, that recent history, is really just a fleeting glimpse in its long, long history - so it adds a perspective to that recent history.
"It's quite poignant and personal - a nice message about a place that has been difficult for the Prince."
Charles will journey to Mullaghmore tomorrow to view the harbour where his godfather was killed by the IRA in 1979.
Ireland's national agency responsible for marine research, technology, development and innovation is on a scenic stretch of coastline at Rinville, near Oranmore.
During his visit Charles was briefed on the work of the institute. He was also shown some of the equipment it uses for marine conservation.
Ireland's agriculure minister Simon Conveney joined the Prince and Mr Kenny on the tour.
"I was delighted to be able to showcase the work taking place in Galway to Prince Charles, who has long had an interest in our understanding and governance of the oceans."
The institute provides scientific and technical advice to the Irish government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.
Set up in 1991, among its roles is assessing commercial fish and shellfish stocks in the waters around Ireland, ensuring aquaculture industry conforms to best practice regulations, and maintaining food safety standards in Irish seafood products.
During his 40-minute visit, Charles also heard about the first transatlantic mapping survey to take place under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the US.
The Irish-led survey will begin next month when the RV Celtic Explorer sails from Newfoundland in Canada to Galway.