Belfast Telegraph

Unionist outrage at Sinn Fein Queen 'insult'

By Noel McAdam

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has been accused of “insulting” the majority of people in Northern Ireland after insisting she will not meet the Queen.

And the Sinn Fein minister also told the Assembly her officials have not been in contact with the Westminster Department of Culture Media and Sports which is organising the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee events for next year.

The Arts and Leisure minister’s position is in contrast to deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who made clear he would meet the Royal family if elected as Irish president.

And it comes after the furore over Sinn Fein Belfast Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile's refusal to present an award to a teenage Army cadet — which Mr McGuinness forcefully labelled “a mistake”.

But Executive Minister Ni Chuilin — who was also at the centre of the row over the appointment of convicted killer Mary McArdle as her special adviser — yesterday reverted to Sinn Fein’s long-held position against the monarchy.

That policy left the Mayor of Cashel Michael Browne — who became the first Irish republican to officially greet a British monarch when the Queen made her historic trip to the Republic earlier this year — facing internal disciplinary action. But he died within weeks.

Hardline unionist Jim Allister asked Ms Ni Chuilin in the Assembly what co-operation there had been between her department and Westminster and added: “Will she meet her Majesty if she comes to visit NI during her Jubilee?”

Ms Ni Chuilin told MLAs at Question Time: “I have had no discussions, so no to his first question and no to his second question.”

In a statement afterwards the Traditional Unionist Voice leader added: “(Her) response was an insult to the majority of people in Northern Ireland who hold the monarchy in very high regard.

“Her answer today again demonstrates her unfitness for office and exposes all of Sinn Fein/IRA’s fine words about wanting to see a shared future for what they are.

“She is her Majesty’s Minister of Culture in this part of the country and it is indicative of her bigotry not just that she has had no discussions but is not even willing to meet the Queen during any visit.”

However, Sinn Fein hit back saying: “Jim Allister has a ridiculous issue to raise very week which impacts not one iota on the important issues facing people.

“He would be better dealing with the issues that affect people’s lives.”

Timeline

May 2011:

Sinn Fein Mayor of Cashel shakes hands with the Queen

October 2011:

Martin McGuinness says he would meet the Queen if elected Irish president

December 2011:

Sinn Fein minister says she would not meet the Queen

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