Will Martin McGuinness meet and shake hands with the Queen?
- 1 June 2012
- From the section Northern Ireland
Martin McGuinnness has thrown out hints that he may meet the Queen, after her successful visit to the Republic. And now it seems he may have the chance.
The question is: will he meet the monarch this month when she visits, and if he does, will he shake her hand?
If it happens, where will it happen?
There is already speculation that Stormont is a possibility with the First and Deputy First Ministers welcoming her on the steps of Parliament Buildings.
But sources says this is all premature, as the Belfast leg of her 26 to 27 June jubilee tour has yet to be worked out.
A spokesman for Sinn Fein said there is, at this stage, no proposal to put to the Sinn Fein executive of Ard Chomairle. "If there was a proposal it would be for the Ard Chomhairle to discuss it at its June meeting."
Sinn Fein may take heart from a recent Belfast Telegraph straw poll, conducted at last month's Ard Fheis.
The poll, clearly anecdotal, indicated that a majority (54%) supported Mr McGuinness meeting the Queen, with 30% opposed.
But Sinn Fein would have concerns about splits north of the border over the issue. It may be that if she did come to Stormont, only the Deputy First Minister would greet her and that the Sinn Fein assembly team would not turn up.
The last time the Queen visited Parliament Buildings was in May 2002 when the administration was led by the UUP and SDLP. No Sinn Fein MLAs were in the Great Hall for the reception.
The First Minister is clearly thrilled at the news of her visit and tweeted that it will be "greeted widely."
"It's a sign of progress that advance notice can be given to allow public presence," Peter Robinson declared.
Mr Robinson makes no secret of his admiration for the Queen and has childhood memories of her coronation.
It's known Buckingham Palace is keen to have as many people as possible involved in the celebrations and in that respect Stormont, with its vast estate, may be a possible gathering point.
Certainly it would make an alternative to the private garden party at Hillsborough Castle that has been an annual event here.