The Day Martin McGuinness Met The Queen of England
Martin McGuinness shook hands with the Queen of England and history was made. This post is not about whether he should or should not have shook hands with an English Queen, or indeed why she should have shook hands with the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. The fact is that it happened and irrespective of personal opinion it will be recorded in history as a significant moment.
Ten years ago this would never have been a consideration for either party. Five years ago it would not have been on the cards either. Less than a year ago the Queen visited Dublin and Sinn Fein and Martin McGuinness stayed away. Why then was this the time to meet?
It's hard to explain why and I guess it is all about timing and moving on and developing the political landscape on the island of Ireland. Despite many people who doubted that the Northern Ireland Assembly would last it has been up and running for just over five years. This event is a natural extension of that and another step along the journey of conflict resolution.
I would assume this was a difficult encounter for both parties and it could not have been an easy decision for either but it will belong in modern history and I have no doubt will continue to impact of the journey of improving relationships between Ireland and England.
many people on both sides of the religious divide vehemently opposed such a token handshake but in the main it was welcomed by a large majority as an offer of peace and reconciliation. Only history will tell if they are right.