'Mountbatten knew dangers in coming here', says Adams
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams failed to apologise to Prince Charles for the death of his great uncle Lord Henry Mountbatten at their historic meeting and says he stands over his comments that the royal "knew the danger" he was in by coming to Ireland.
The meeting of the country's most senior Republican figure and Prince Charles (66) was the stand-out event from the opening day of the four-day visit to Ireland with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Mr Adams shook hands with Prince Charles during a reception at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) yesterday.
Speaking before the meeting, Mr Adams said he planned to express "regret" over the 1979 murder of Lord Henry Mountbatten, the Queen's first cousin, who was targeted by IRA bombers while on a fishing trip with his family in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo.
However, he refused to take back previous comments that the royal "could not have objected to dying" because "he knew the danger in coming to this country". He said: "I stand over what I said then. I'm not one of those people that engages in revisionism. Thankfully the war is over.
"I would not have been surprised to have been killed in the course of the conflict," he told RTÉ radio.
He said he was "mindful of the suffering" experienced by Prince Charles and his family but said he was equally aware of those who died throughout the course of the 'Troubles', as well as ongoing difficulties in the North.
"We have these practical symbolic steps like today's engagement but we also have a British government which refuses to engage in the Dublin-Monghan bombings, we have big challenges which are quite immediate and multiple facing the political institutions in the north," he said.
He added he felt an 'affinity' with the Prince as they have both suffered loss.
"I have very little in common with a member of the British Royal family but at a human level and personal level this Prince of the Royal family and I...have an awful lot in common in terms of bereavement, suffering and I would like to think forbearance and a willingness to face into the future," he said.
He said after the meeting that he had welcomed the Prince to Ireland in both the Irish and English language.
After the handshake, the two met in private for 10 minutes with the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the British Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott.
Prince Charles agreed to the meeting at the National University of Ireland Galway after a request by the Sinn Féin president.
Lord Mountbatten died along with Lady Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of the earl's daughter, his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, and 14-year-old Paul Maxwell, from Killynure, Enniskillen. "Both he and we expressed our regret for what happened from 1968 onwards," Mr Adams said.
"We were of a common mind and the fact that the meeting took place, it obviously was a big thing for him to do and a big thing for us to do."
The Royal couple had been welcomed into Galway earlier in the day by Tánaiste Joan Burton and the Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and attended a marquee party in NUIG which was attended by 150 guests and dignitaries.