SF agrees to queen photo release
A photograph of the historic handshake between Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth will almost definitely be released to the world’s media, Sinn Féin has said.
This contradicted earlier reports that the greeting would be kept private.
Speaking ahead of a party briefing on the matter today, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams told various media outlets he had “no objection” to a picture being released.
A party spokesman further commented that it was the party’s “understanding” that an image of the handshake, planned for this Wednesday at a charity reception in Belfast, would be made available.
“This is standard procedure with Buckingham Palace,” said the spokesman. “There is a very strict protocol and they are masters at stage-managing this kind of event.
“It’s our understanding there will be an appointed photographer, and then one, or a small number of carefully selected images will be released for publication.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Mr Adams said he had no issue with an image – that undoubtedly would make front pages around the world – being released.
He said: “We’re doing this as proud republicans, we’re confident, we’re modern in our vision.”
“We think this is the proper thing to do, we think it’s the right thing to do. So, of course, we have no objection to a photo being released.”
The latest development flies in the face of earlier reports – some of which came from Sinn Féin sources – that no photographer would be allowed to capture the moment
when Mr McGuinness and the queen come face to face, although it has been generally accepted that a group photograph, taken by a Buckingham Palace photographer, would be released to the media.
The lack of clarity surrounding arrangements underlines the political sensitivity and symbolism attached to the moment when the alleged former head of the IRA and the British monarch – titular head of the British armed forces – make eye contact, take each other’s hands and, presumably, exchange pleasantries.
In the past, Sinn Féin has boycotted royal visits and the IRA has targeted members of the British royal family, most notably Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was murdered off the coast of Co Sligo in 1979.
This week’s event has been organised by Co-operation Ireland, of which both the queen and President Michael D Higgins are patrons.
The President will also be in attendance on Wednesday as will Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson.
Co-operation Ireland promotes reconciliation through arts and culture. Its current head, Peter Sheridan, is a former senior PSNI officer.