Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness says 'I like the Queen'

Martin McGuinness shakes hands with the Queen Image copyright PA
Image caption Martin McGuinness shook hands with the Queen in June 2012

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has paid tribute to the Queen, saying that he likes her.

The former IRA commander, who went on to become Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, first met the Queen at a charity event in Belfast in 2012.

"I liked her courage in agreeing to meet with me; I liked the engagements that I've had with her," he said.

"There's nothing I have seen in my engagements with her that this is someone I should dislike - I like her."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson showed the Queen around Crumlin Road jail in June

Mr McGuinness was speaking in a BBC Radio Ulster documentary that goes behind the scenes to explore how that historic handshake came about.

He said the Queen was "very sharp" and understood the significance of the peace process.

"I know who Queen Elizabeth represents. I know she's the head of the British state. I know she has all sorts of titles in relation to different regiments in the British army.

"She knows my history. She knows I was a member of the IRA. She knows I was in conflict with her soldiers, yet both of us were prepared to rise above all of that."

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Media captionThe Queen shook hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness.

Co-operation Ireland chairman Christopher Moran, who knows the Queen, said she had taken a personal interest in the meeting and understood its significance for the political process.

"The Queen is happy at the way it turned out," he said.

"The Queen sees the improvement in Anglo-Irish relations and the huge progress that has been made in the peace process in Northern Ireland as one of the great achievements in her long and glorious reign."

History in their Hands, presented by Mark Carruthers, was first broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday 12 October. It is repeated on Thursday 16 October at 19:30 BST and is available on iPlayer.

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