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Saturday 3 December 2016

Queen ‘insisted’ that Prince Charles meet with Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams

The Prince of Wales (left) shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales (left) shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

THE meeting between Prince Charles and Gerry Adams is only going ahead today because the Queen insisted, according to reports.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, flew into Shannon airport this morning before being escorted to NUI Galway’s campus.

The royal duo will begin their visit to Ireland in the Galway university where they’ll meet 150 invited guests including the Taoiseach Enda Kenny as well as leaders of opposition parties.

Later Prince Charles will meet with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams – this unusual get together was arranged because Prince Charles’s mother Queen Elizabeth II said it should go ahead.

OBJECTED

The main political parties in the Government and opposition here had strongly objected to the behind-closed-doors meeting on the campus of NUIG, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

But they were forced to back down at the eleventh hour after Buckingham Palace officials insisted the meeting go ahead.

One senior London source familiar with the negotiations said: “The resistance of the southern Irish Government was eventually broken by the enthusiastic support of the Queen and Prince Charles.

“The other party leaders will get a private five-minute meeting to provide political cover.”

The historic meeting, which also involves Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, will be held away from cameras.

This makes a handshake between the republican leader and the royal more likely. Charles’s favourite uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was blown up by the IRA in 1979.

Sources said that after her ground-breaking handshake with former IRA commander Mr McGuinness at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in 2011, the Queen wanted to make another political gesture.

A Buckingham Palace source said: “The past is the past. It is time to move forward.”

The meeting with Mr Adams comes ahead of a visit to the Sligo site of his great-uncle’s murder and is widely seen as the next phase in ever deepening relations, friendships and bonds between the UK and Ireland. After NUIG, the couple will then split for separate engagements.

Prince Charles will travel to the Marine Institute in Oranmore and then on to the Burren in Co Clare.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will welcome the prince to the Marine Institute.

The prince has expressed a particular interest in hearing about the impact of climate change on the world’s        oceans.

Separately, the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Claddagh National School in Galway and attend a reception at the Mick Lally Theatre to mark the Druid Theatre Company’s 40th anniversary.

The couple will then attend a private dinner together with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Lough Cutra Castle, Co Galway.

Tomorrow, the couple will visit Lissadell House in Sligo, beginning with a civic reception and a viewing of the Niland Art Collection at the Model contemporary arts centre.

Gardai have put “high” security measures in place for this week’s visit. The threat level from dissident republicans is pitched at “moderate” and there is “no specific intelligence” on threats, a garda spokesman said.

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