Belfast Telegraph

Charles shakes hands with former IRA gun runner Martin Ferris as Ireland trip ends

The Prince of Wales met Martin Ferris, a Sinn Fein MP in the Irish parliament, at Killarney House.

The Prince of Wales has ended his visit to Ireland by shaking hands with a former IRA gun runner who said the trip was another step on the “peace and reconciliation” journey the British Government and Irish republicans are making.

Charles met Martin Ferris, a Sinn Fein MP in the Irish parliament, as his four-day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic with the Duchess of Cornwall drew to a close.

At a garden party staged in Killarney in County Kerry, the two men warmly shook hands in the grounds of Killarney House and exchanged a few words.

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The Prince of Wales met Sinn Fein’s Martin Ferris at a garden party at Killarney House (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Ferris said about Charles’s visit to the area, his fourth trip to Ireland in as many years: “I think it’s a wonderful occasion again, it’s a big boost to Kerry from a tourism perspective.

“From a national perspective it’s another step on the peace and reconciliation journey that both Prince Charles and the British Government and the British royal family are involved with along with Republicans on this island.”

The 2011 visit by the Queen to Ireland was seen as a watershed moment in Anglo-Irish relations, ushering in closer ties between the two nations as they reconciled their difficult shared histories.

The Sinn Fein MP went on to highlight the historic visit by the British head of state and how she paid her respects at a monument in Dublin to those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

Mr Ferris said: “I think the Queen when she visited a number of years back and visited the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin was a huge statement and also going to Croke Park, the home of Gaelic football, and meeting Martin McGuinness.”

Earlier Camilla had kicked off her shoes to feel the sand beneath her feet when she joined Charles on a beach to highlight the scourge of plastic pollution.

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The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall walked on Derrynane beach (Niall Carson/PA)

Camilla quickly removed her 2in heels when the couple walked on to Derrynane beach to hear about the work of local schoolchildren collecting waste from the shore.

Charles told his wife “you’ll get sand in your shoes” when she later slipped them back on her stocking feet.

Before getting into a helicopter, which had brought the royals to the stunning south-west Irish coastline, she could be seen shaking the sand from her footwear.

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were shown around Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell (Niall Carson/PA)

Nearby was the home of the celebrated 19th century campaigner Daniel O’Connell, who championed Catholic emancipation and was a leading figure in the fight to abolish slavery.

The heir to his throne and his wife toured the mansion and met descendants of the lawyer and statesman whose beliefs have influenced successive world figures.

Rickard O’Connell, the campaigner’s great-great-great-grandson, said about the royal visit: “It means an awful lot. There have been periods when his legacy wasn’t as recognised or kept alive through different periods but I think more and more there’s a real recognition how relevant he is today.

“Things like anti-slavery, universal rights, talking about the suffrage movement celebrating their hundred years recently, he was one of the early proponents of a lot of those movements.

“The peaceful element was critically what he was about.”

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