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Sinn Fein agrees to turn queen handshake into 'Kodak moment'

SINN Fein is willing to have a "Kodak moment" for the historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

It had been reported that the event at Belfast's Lyric Theatre on Wednesday would take place behind closed doors.

But Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams yesterday said his party would have no objection to photographs being taken of the first official meeting between Queen Elizabeth and a representative of Sinn Fein.

The Sinn Fein mayor of Cashel, the late Cllr Michael Browne, shook hands with the queen during last year's visit -- but that was against the instructions of the party.

Sinn Fein has been sensitive about photographs of key events before. It objected to demands for a "Kodak moment" during the Peace Process in 2005, when the Democratic Unionist Party wanted photographic proof that IRA weapons had been decommissioned.

The historic event, organised by the charity Co-operation Ireland, will also be attended by President Michael D Higgins, who is visiting Irish communities in Britain.

"I accepted the invitation on the basis that it would be an inclusive occasion," he said.

Last Saturday, republican protesters marched to City Hall in Belfast calling on the Deputy First Minister to reverse his decision to meet the queen. They included the sister of one of the 13 civilians shot dead by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

But yesterday Sinn Fein was accused of a "cheap little media game" by junior minister Brian Hayes due to its protracted discussions over whether or not to meet the queen and shake her hand.

Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley said that it was a "fuss about nothing". He said: "I think Sinn Fein were embarrassed that they didn't embrace the queen's visit to Ireland last year."

Sinn Fein said that it had been necessary for the party to consult its members and hold a meeting of its ard comhairle to approve the decision.

The North's First Minister Peter Robinson said such a meeting would also be difficult for the queen, given her own family was hurt by republican violence when the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten in 1979.

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