Tuesday 25 October 2016

Turning another page in the history books

Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30

Prince Charles speaks with Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams
Prince Charles speaks with Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams

The journey from the Good Friday Agreement to today was one from antipathy to trust. The next stage was to forge sustainable bonds of friendship. It hasn't always been easy, and it was made less so by a tendency to keep one stubborn foot in the past. But time is a masterful healer.

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The visit of Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla is testament to the progress in building stronger and more enduring relationships between these islands.

Yesterday's meeting between Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Prince Charles was another link in that important chain of friendship.

Of course, Mr Adams was a late-comer to the party. When Queen Elizabeth visited this country in 2011, there was a golden opportunity to cement goodwill and kinship.

No one was ever lessened by an act of magnanimity, a point made so memorably by the queen when she bowed to the republican dead at the Garden of Remembrance.

At the time, demonstrating a spectacular misreading of the popular mood, Mr Adams and his party looked backwards instead of towards the future.

Yesterday, Prince Charles extended his hand to Mr Adams, and thus another new threshold was crossed, albeit somewhat tardily.

Commenting on the meeting, Mr Adams said it was "a big thing for him (Prince Charles) to do it, and a big thing for us".

All acts of reconciliation are welcome. But it could and should have happened sooner.

Mr Adams said that in his short meeting, both he and Prince Charles spoke of their "regrets" about shared scars of history.

Yesterday's meeting, though long overdue, was still significant. Prince Charles sat down with Martin McGuinness, as well as Mr Adams, for 15 minutes.

Both men played a leading role in the republican movement. They were key figures throughout the Troubles, so for a royal to meet them after the decades of violence turns another page in the history books.

Irish Independent

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