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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II shook hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in a historic gesture marking a giant step forward in the peace process relating to British rule of Northern Ireland…The handshake came 14 years after the end of a conflict that claimed about 3,500 lives, including that of the queen’s cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten in an IRA bombing.
McGuinness spoke to the queen in Irish as they clasped hands and made eye contact for several seconds in the ground-breaking public part of the event.
“Goodbye and godspeed,” McGuinness said, translating his comment for the queen. She smiled throughout the encounter but did not speak. The handshake followed a brief private meeting at which McGuinness told the queen their meeting was a powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership, his party…
He emphasized the need to acknowledge the pain of all victims of the conflict and their families, Sinn Fein said…
“It went good, it went really well,” McGuinness said afterwards, adding he is “still a republican” who opposes British rule of Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams welcomed what he called a “historic meeting,” saying that “all in all, it’s a good day for Ireland and a good day for the people of these islands.”
Speaking outside the Irish parliament, he said: “It brings our journey of relationship building within this island and between these islands onto a new plane. I would to think we will build upon that.”
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