Northern Ireland

Royal visit: Charles and Camilla in Belfast and Armagh

Prince Charles is greeted by the new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, John Finucane
Image caption Prince Charles is greeted by new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have visited Belfast and Armagh on the third day of their visit to the island of Ireland.

Hundreds of people lined Belfast streets as the royal couple was greeted by the new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, John Finucane.

They were visiting the fire-damaged Primark Building in the city centre.

It came only hours after Mr Finucane was warned by police of a loyalist death threat against him.

In the past, some members of Sinn Féin have been reluctant to meet members of the royal family but, before his installation on Tuesday, Mr Finucane insisted he would be prepared to do so.

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Image caption Members of the public were keen to shake hands with the prince in Donegall Place

Meeting Prince Charles and Camilla is one of Mr Finucane's first official duties.

Crowd-control barriers were erected and there was a wide-scale security operation as the royal couple was shown the restoration work to the Bank Buildings, the scene of a major fire last August.

After being shown inside the landmark building, Prince Charles said: "I hope it comes back to life soon."

The royal visitors met some of the fire and police officers involved in aftermath of the fire.

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Image caption Prince Charles discussed the the major Bank Buildings restoration job with workers on the site

Relatives of people shot dead while the Army was deployed in west Belfast in 1971 held a protest against the Prince of Wales' visit to the city.

Prince Charles' first engagement of the day was at a synagogue in the north of the city, while the duchess visited a homeless charity, the Belfast Welcome Organisation.

It is based close to one of the city's peace walls between the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Falls areas.

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Image caption The Prince of Wales met members of Northern Ireland's Jewish community during a visit to a Belfast synagogue

The prince is colonel-in-in chief of the Parachute Regiment, and a number of former paratroopers have given evidence at the Ballymurphy inquest, which is looking into the shooting dead of 10 people in the area over a three-day period following the introduction of internment.

Later in the day, the Prince of Wales played referee for a "symbolic match" between young rugby and Gaelic football players.

Image caption Young GAA players and rugby players line the steps of Palace Demesne, Armagh, to greet the Prince of Wales

Charles was visiting the Palace Demesne, home of the current offices of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, where he blew the starting whistle on the game.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was represented by St Patrick's GAC Armagh and the rugby team came from the Armagh Royal School.

One overzealous young player skidded across the pitch and landed at the feet of an impressed Prince Charles before the game had even begun.

Image caption Prince Charles was referee in a match between GAA and rugby players

Vice-chairman of Ulster GAA Ciaran McLaughlin said the game was "extremely symbolic" of the future of Northern Ireland, moving away from previously held stereotypes.

"The game is part of a community outreach programme. We have Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA coming together to try out the skills from GAA and rugby in a fun environment and bringing children together through sport," he said.

Ulster and Ireland rugby star Rory Best and Armagh County GAA manager Kieran McGeeney were also present to meet the prince.

Image caption Prince Charles visiting Armagh Cathedral, where he was greeted by Archbishops Eamon Martin and Richard Clarke

Prince Charles also visited Armagh Cathedral, where he was greeted by Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke.

Image caption Prince Charles was given a tour of Armagh Cathedral

On Tuesday, the royal couple attended guests at a garden party in Enniskillen - the first time the annual event was moved from Hillsborough Castle in County Down.

Image copyright NIO
Image caption The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a garden party in County Fermanagh, hosted by NI Secretary Karen Bradley on Tuesday

This year's party reflected Prince Charles' wish for it to have a cross-border emphasis.

Among the guests were elected representatives from county councils on both sides of the border and members of cross-border bodies.

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Image caption President Michael D Higgins and the Prince of Wales

On Monday, the prince and the duchess spent the first day of their tour in the Republic of Ireland and attended an event at a peace centre, meeting Irish President Michael D Higgins.

Before arriving in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Prince Charles went to the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow, while Camilla visited Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue in the same county.

They then travelled to the monastic site at Glendalough before crossing the border into Northern Ireland.

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