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Queen talks 'would be considered'

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Martin McGuinness stressed it would be a huge ask for any Irish republican to meet the Queen

Martin McGuinness stressed it would be a huge ask for any Irish republican to meet the Queen

Martin McGuinness stressed it would be a huge ask for any Irish republican to meet the Queen

Any decision for Sinn Fein members to meet the Queen will be made on whether it would enhance the peace process or damage it, the party has said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness revealed the party leadership would consider a serious proposition to meet the Queen during her jubilee tour to Northern Ireland later this month. But he again stressed it would be a huge ask for any Irish republican.

"My position is that if there is a serious proposition then it would be considered by the Sinn Fein leadership," said Mr McGuinness.

"But let me make it absolutely clear any decision that I am part of will be about ensuring that decision will enhance the peace process and will not in any way damage it."

The Deputy First Minister was in Dublin attending the North South Ministerial Council with First Minister Peter Robinson, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and ministers from both sides of the border.

Mr Kenny refused to be drawn into the debate, stating it was not an issue another political party should interfere with. But he paid tribute to the monarch and the symbolic gesture she made at the Garden of Remembrance, where she bowed to honour those who died for Irish freedom.

Mr McGuinness said any exception taken by Sinn Fein was over the contributions made by the Northern Ireland Office, which he claimed were not helpful.

He maintained he has tremendous respect for the desires and wishes of the unionist population of the north to be part of the jubilee celebrations, which includes a party at Stormont on June 27.

"From my perspective I will, as always, approach these matters in a very sensible way, recognising the allegiances of others and recognising their right to honour the person they regard as their Queen," said Mr McGuinness at Farmleigh House.

"So nothing that I will do, nothing that I will say, will be done in any way to undermine the incredible progress is that we have made, not just in the north, but throughout this island, and ensuring that we continue to work for reconciliation and will continue to stretch ourselves to understand the important contributions politicians in particular can make in relation to giving leadership to our people."

PA