Northern Ireland

No do-able solution to Jubilee party: Martin McGuinness

The Queen
Image caption A party celebrate the Queen's Jubilee is being held within the grounds of Stormont on 27 June

It would be a "huge ask" on the part of any Irish republican to meet the Queen, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said.

He was referring to plans for a Queen's Jubilee party at Stormont on 27 June.

Mr McGuinness said the way in which the Northern Ireland Office announced the event on Friday without consulting his party had been "insensitive".

"As we speak, we do not have a do-able proposition in relation to this," he explained.

The Northern Ireland Office announcement about a Stormont party for the Queen led to intense speculation about Sinn Fein's role in any such event.

Mr McGuinness was critical of the NIO, arguing that they should have left the matter to the Northern Ireland Executive.

He pointed out that DUP First Minister Peter Robinson's wish to send a gift to the Queen on behalf of Northern Ireland on the occasion of her Jubilee had been handled in a sensitive and diplomatic way.

On Sunday, Sinn Fein Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said the 27 June event had not been agreed by the executive and she would not be attending.

The party is being held during the Queen's two-day visit later this month.

'Shared site'

Ms Ni Chuilin told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme that she heard about the event through the media when it was announced on Friday.

"I assume this is something that has been concocted by the NIO in discussions probably with the DUP," she said.

"What we need to remember is that Stormont is a place, a shared site, the fact that this has been done without any discussion with ourselves sort of jars with me to be honest."

The culture minister said not knowing about the party was an obstacle in her party's decision whether or not to meet the Queen.

"We may be asked to make a decision about who will meet or may not meet the Queen," she said.

Sinn Fein's stance has been criticised by Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt.

"When you look at what the Queen did on her three-day visit last year to the Republic, particularly on the first day in Dublin - where she went, the respect she paid and the people she paid it to - it needs a reciprocal gesture, it demands a reciprocal gesture.

"It would be absolutely wrong not to do so," he said.


The event will be held in the grounds of Parliament Buildings.

Representatives from youth organisations, the emergency services, government departments, local councils, health trusts, ex-service associations as well as education and library boards are also being invited.

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, including the First Minister Peter Robinson are expected to attend the event.

Details on how the 10,000 free tickets are to be distributed to the public will be released soon.

The Queen is due to arrive in Northern Ireland on 26 June.

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