Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams has no apology for Lord Mountbatten murder - earl 'knew the dangers' of coming to Ireland

By Sam Griffin and Ed Carty

Gerry Adams failed to apologise to Prince Charles for the death of his great-uncle Lord Henry Mountbatten at their historic meeting.

The Sinn Fein leader said he stands over his comments that the royal "knew the danger" he was in by coming to Ireland.

The meeting of Ireland's most senior republican figure and Prince Charles (66) was the stand-out event from the opening day of the four-day visit to Ireland with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Mr Adams shook hands with Prince Charles during a reception at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), yesterday.

It marked the first meeting in the Republic between a Sinn Fein leader and member of the royal family.

Mr Adams claimed he had a meeting of minds talking to the prince about lives lost in Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict.

After the historic handshake, the men held a 10-minute private discussion.

Mr Adams said they both expressed regrets over deaths in the Troubles and spoke about the 1979 IRA bombing in which Prince Charles' great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was murdered, and other atrocities.

Lord Mountbatten died along 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.

"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." Mr Adams described the meeting as "a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation arising from the peace process".

"He and his family were hurt and suffered great loss by the actions of Irish republicans. I am very conscious of this and of the sad loss of the Maxwell family, whose son Paul was killed at Mullaghmore, and I thank all involved, including Charles, for their forbearance," he said.

However, he refused to take back previous comments that the royal "could not have objected to dying" because "he knew the danger in coming to this country".

He said: "I stand over what I said then. I'm not one of those people that engages in revisionism. Thankfully the war is over.

"I would not have been surprised to have been killed in the course of the conflict," he told RTE radio. He said he was "mindful of the suffering" experienced by Prince Charles and his family but said he was equally aware of those who died throughout the course of the Troubles, as well as ongoing difficulties in Northern Ireland.

Also at the private meeting were Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and British Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott.

Charles agreed to the meeting at the National University of Ireland after a request by the Sinn Fein leader. The handshake will chime with the theme of peace and reconciliation at the prayer gathering in St Columba's Church, Drumcliffe, Co Sligo, today, a few miles from Mullaghmore, where the IRA killed Mountbatten. It is also being looked on as the next phase in ever-deepening relations, friendships and bonds between the UK and Ireland.

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.

Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon was killed in the IRA Shankill Road bombing in 1993, told the BBC the families of some of the victims would find the handshake difficult to watch.

"At the end of the day, it is just a handshake and I long for the day when these things don't have the sort of significance that they have at present, because of our history and the conflict and all of that," he said.

Read more:

Gerry Adams and Prince Charles: Opposite types who have so much in common 

Prince Charles' royal visit to Ireland: In pictures 

Why glad-handing royals has nothing to do with the peace  

Prince Charles royal visit: Bloody Sunday widow tells granddaughter to sing her heart out for peace

Prince Charles has nothing to apologise for but is happy to forgive - it's a pity Gerry Adams can't do the same 

A day of firsts as Prince Charles shakes hands on peace and lives dream on Burren 

Royal visit to take a sombre tone as Prince Charles remembers great-uncle slain by IRA at Mullaghmore 

Gerry Adams has no apology for Lord Mountbatten murder - earl 'knew the dangers' of coming to Ireland

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