Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Why Queen handshake will show Sinn Fein's Martin is a real leader

In the past: Martin McGuinness pictured brandishing a gun
In the past: Martin McGuinness pictured brandishing a gun
1977 at a polo match at Windsor; Prince Charles, and Lord Mountbatten with Prince Philip
The remains of Lord Mountbatten are removed after the IRA bomb attack on the boat, Shadow V, in Co Sligo
Timothy Knatchbull is taken into an ambulance after the IRA bomb attack in 1979 which killed his uncle Lord Mountbatten
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
NI Dr McKenna Cup Final - Derry v TyroneGAA guests of honour First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visit the new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, watched by Health Minister Edwin Poots (second left), during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 26th June 2012. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Queen Jubile Visit to Enniskillen Northern Ireland. The Queen at the South West Acute Hopital, Enniskillen.
Shared laughter between the then First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in May 2007
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II visits the South Western Acute Hospital on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Martin McGuinness with Gerry Adams
Queen Elizabeth II outside St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour.
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont. May 8, 2007.
Her Majesty the Queen unveils a statue entitled 'Ossian' by artist Alexander Stoddart, in front of Hillsborough Castle, accompanied by Secretary of State Owen Paterson.The Queen unveiled the statue at the end of the first of a two day visit to Northern Ireland to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Crowds wave Union flags in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, as they wait for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers from local school children after she visited South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers from local school children after she visited South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II arrives through the new Jubilee Gates at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Crowds wave Union flags in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, as they wait for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visit the new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, watched by Health Minister Edwin Poots (second left), during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II visits the new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 26th June 2012. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Queen Jubile Visit to Enniskillen Northern Ireland. The Queen at the South West Acute Hopital, Enniskillen.
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 26th June 2012. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Queen Jubile Visit to Enniskillen Northern Ireland. The Queen at the South West Acute Hopital, Enniskillen.
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II visits the South Western Acute Hospital on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
HRH the Queen mets Health Minister Edwin Poots durng her visit of the newly opened South West HospitalPhoto by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen mets staff of the newly opened South West Hospital during the secong visit of the day to the province. Showing HRH around the wards are Dr Ray Nethercott and Trust Chairman Gerard GuckinPhoto by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen mets staff, volunteers and representatives of the emergengy services during her visit to the newly opened South West Hospital during the secong visit of the day to the provincePhoto by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen and Prince Phillip with the Dean of St McCartans Cathederal Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen went walkabout after her visit to St McCartans Cathederal and St Michaels Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen went walkabout after her visit to St McCartans Cathederal and St Michaels Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
The Queen went walkabout after her visit to St McCartans Cathederal and St Michaels Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
HRH the Queen and Prince Phillip during their visit to St Michaels Chapel Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
Pacemaker Press 26/6/2012 The Queen and Prince Philip are welcomed by thousands of People in Enniskillen during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The Queen has met relatives of the victims of an IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 25 years ago , She will visit Belfast on Wednesdays and meet with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/6/2012 The Queen and Prince Philip are welcomed by thousands of People in Enniskillen during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The Queen has met relatives of the victims of an IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 25 years ago , She will visit Belfast on Wednesdays and meet with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/6/2012 The Queen and Prince Philip are welcomed by thousands of People in Enniskillen during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The Queen has met relatives of the victims of an IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 25 years ago , She will visit Belfast on Wednesdays and meet with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II receives floral posies from wellwishers as she and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2012 Crowds Come out to welcome the Queen in Enniskillen yesterday during a twoday tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2012 Crowds Come out to welcome the Queen in Enniskillen yesterday during a twoday tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2012 Crowds Come out to welcome the Queen in Enniskillen yesterday during a twoday tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2012 Crowds Come out to welcome the Queen in Enniskillen yesterday during a twoday tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2012 Crowds Come out to welcome the Queen in Enniskillen yesterday during a twoday tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/6/2012 The Queen and Prince Philip are welcomed by thousands of People in Enniskillen during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The Queen has met relatives of the victims of an IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 25 years ago , She will visit Belfast on Wednesdays and meet with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/6/2012 The Queen and Prince Philip are welcomed by thousands of People in Enniskillen during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. The Queen has met relatives of the victims of an IRA bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 25 years ago , She will visit Belfast on Wednesdays and meet with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
HRH the Queen went walkabout after her visit to St McCartans Cathederal and St Michaels Enniskillen on the first day of her two day visit to the province.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
Susie Doyle chats with the Queen during her visit to the New SouthWest Hospital. Susie's 11 month old baby boy Eoin has Downs and is a patient of the Hospital. Also in picture is trust chairman Gerard Guckin.Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
The Queen mets staff of the newly opened South West Hospital during the secong visit of the day to the provincePhoto by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
The Queen mets staff of the newly opened South West Hospital during the secong visit of the day to the provincePhoto by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wearing homemade paper crowns look on amongst a crowd of wellwishers as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (L) visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wearing homemade paper crowns look on amongst a crowd of wellwishers as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wearing homemade paper crowns look on amongst a crowd of wellwishers as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: A girl holds up a Diamond Jubilee badge amongst a crowd of wellwishers as as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh visit the South Western Acute Hospital on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLIN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave union flags as Queen Elizabeth II visits Macartin's Cathederal on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Crowds wait for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to leave St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 26, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Queen. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave union flags as Queen Elizabeth II visits Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: People wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags and hold out floral bouquets as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags and hold out floral bouquets as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Children wave Union Jack flags as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II receives floral posies from wellwishers as she and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II receives floral posies from wellwishers as she and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 26: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Macartin's Cathedral on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II outside St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
A well wisher waits for Queen Elizabeth II in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Crowds wait for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to leave St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leave St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Queen Elizabeth II visits Macartin's Cathederal on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, are due to meet with former IRA leader and NI's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Queen Elizabeth II visits Macartin's Cathederal on June 26, 2012 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Secratary of State Owen Paterson and Northern Ireland First minister Peter Robinson wait for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to arrive at St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh speak with well wishers in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Crowds wait in the rain for Queen Elizabeth II to arrive in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Crowds watch in the rain as Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Crowds watch from a rooftop as Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Hamilton Gilmour, Jenny Maxwell-Deane, Hilary Graham and Muriel Foy wait for the arrival of The Queen in Enniskillen Co Fermanagh.
Crowds wave Union flags in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, as they wait for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 26th June 2012. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Local shops get ready for the arrival of The Queen in Enniskillen Co Fermanagh.
Crowds wait in heavy rain in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 26th June 2012. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, People in Enniskillen town wait for the arrival of The Queen
Crowds wave Union flags in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, as they wait for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour
Crowds wave Union flags in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, as they wait for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II during a two-day as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour

When Martin McGuinness shakes hands with the Queen today, at Belfast's Lyric Theatre, we'd do well to remember the symbol behind the symbol. This most ubiquitous of human gestures shows two things: that you're not armed and that you're prepared to embrace the other party.

That's why McGuinness and Her Majesty shaking hands is such a big deal. It's the acknowledgement that both exist and that they are prepared to accept the situation the way it is.

Following last year's historic, diplomatically-adept visit by the Queen to the Republic, today's event will not be so universally ground-breaking. But it will nonetheless be momentous.

It shows that Sinn Fein is listening not just to its own voters - the vast majority want the handshake to happen - but to the people of Northern Ireland as a whole.

It also shows that, even for Sinn Fein, ideological 'purity' is much less important than humane transactions.

Welcome to the real world. Most of us have for years had to settle for the reality of acknowledging the existence of 'the other', for just getting on with it.

No matter which side of the fence you come from, you're surrounded by the other. Most nationalists didn't have nosebleeds during the recent Jubilee celebrations, most unionists won't go into meltdown when the Pope eventually comes here.

After 20 years of 'peace' and deals and petty standoffs, arch ideological objections begin to look as incomprehensible as flared trousers or a liking for Lenny Henry.

That was why, though Sinn Fein's reluctance to shake hands with HM was irritating, it had to be endured.

It seems a given now that SF must go through a 'dark night of the soul' before each historic act of what turns out to be leadership. They struggle manfully with what appears obvious, as if there were some nuance of meaning in each act which eludes the rest of us and which only the theologians of the Ard Comhairle can clarify.

And then, as has happened repeatedly, the verdict is ... The Bleedin' Obvious.

The rest of us have learned to endure this hand-wringing and in some way to understand it. We've learned to endure the endless talk of 'big asks'. Everything is a 'big ask' for SF. As if it's not an ordeal for many unionists to watch Martin on TV as Deputy First Minister. As if, as if, as if ...

We endure it because we now know, in spite of the odd renegade, Sinn Fein as a party will always do the right, the sensible, the obvious thing. For most of us here in the real world, every single day involves countless 'asks' of various sizes - big, small, enormous, so-so. We could all find problems with our wee peace - none more so than the Queen who lost family members due to the IRA.

This isn't to belittle the handshake. Far from it. Martin McGuinness deserves congratulations for having the courage to be the one to cut the Gordian knot. It would be hard to envisage SF getting this far if it had been any other 'leading republican' in the frame.

Uniquely amongst the party leadership, McGuinness is the one who has grasped most intuitively the meaning of the Stormont Agreement beyond the sub-clauses. McGuinness knows the Agreement means doing things which make us uncomfortable and that we are then going to have to learn to be comfortable doing it.

It's his centrality to finding a critical path through every moment of crisis over the last 20 years, even the most complex and personally challenging events which required the immediate and right action, which makes McGuinness the Michael Collins of our times.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than grasping the hand of our natural enemy. But it only has meaning as a public act when both parties actually represent in their own persons, in their own lives and histories and journeys, the breadth and depth and energy of opposing forces.

The Queen does so by symbol, inheritance, grace and by her personal losses; McGuinness by his route to power, by what he has represented for decades within the Republican movement, by his credibility, by his acknowledgement of force, then by his extraordinary intelligence in treating as an equal the historic foes of his and many other generations.

Today must be a historic day when the last of the shibboleths bites the dust. It isn't quite Michael Collins and Winston Churchill and Lloyd George.

It's much greater than that.

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