Friday 9 December 2016

Sorry still the hardest word for SF even after all this time

Published 12/04/2014 | 02:30

It was another significant gesture during a state visit that meant so much – in the Great Hall at Windsor Castle, the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warmly shook the hand of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, watched by First Minister Peter Robinson and President Michael D Higgins. Photo: PA
It was another significant gesture during a state visit that meant so much – in the Great Hall at Windsor Castle, the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warmly shook the hand of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, watched by First Minister Peter Robinson and President Michael D Higgins. Photo: PA

Tommy Gorman could hardly conceal his excitement. The headline on the 9 o'clock news was that Martin McGuinness would accept the invitation of Queen Elizabeth to attend a banquet in Windsor Castle as part of the State visit of President Higgins. This was newsworthy, given the McGuinness non-participation in the 2011 Royal visit to Ireland.

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That visit was a triumph and politically flawless. Most people felt Sinn Fein had been out of step with the public mood by not attending the ceremonies. McGuinness's attendance this week was welcome, therefore, but in my view, it was ill-judged for RTE to portray it as "taking a risk for peace", to quote Gerry Adams in a blatant piece of propaganda.

A recent RTE documentary on Seamus Mallon, the former deputy first minister, was a reminder of the many compromises made by constitutional politicians, for the greater good of ending the conflict.

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