Northern Ireland

Martin McGuinness toasts Queen at Windsor Castle state banquet

Martin McGuinness at banquet
Image caption Martin McGuinness arrives for the state banquet at Windsor Castle

Northern Ireland deputy first minister and former IRA leader Martin McGuinness has joined in a toast to the Queen during a state banquet at Windsor Castle.

Mr McGuinness stood for the toast, proposed by Irish President Michael D Higgins, as an orchestra played God Save The Queen.

The banquet was in honour of President Higgins.

It marked the end of the first day of his four-day state visit.

When he was a Sinn Féin MP Mr McGuinness refused to sit in the House of Commons because he would have had to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch.

Mr McGuinness had previously shaken hands with the Queen during her 2012 visit to Northern Ireland.

Relatives of IRA victims protested outside Windsor Castle against Mr McGuinness' attendance at the banquet.

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Media captionMartin McGuinness: "If there's a toast to the Queen I will observe all the protocols and civilities"

A father whose son was killed in the Omagh bombing was part of the protest.

Victor Barker's 12-year-old son died in the 1998 attack, which killed 28 other people and unborn twins.

Mr Barker held a sign that said: "A terrorist in a white tie and tails is still a terrorist - Martin McGuiness time to tell the truth". (Sic)


He said: "I'm here because I think that people should be reminded of McGuinness' past and not just rewrite history as far as he's concerned."

The sister of a woman killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings called for the arrest of Mr McGuinness.

Image copyright Steve Parsons/PA
Image caption Relatives of victims of the 1974 Birmingham bomb protested outside Windsor Castle

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the atrocity, said she was angry at the British establishment for giving "permission" to Mr McGuinness to "come on to the mainland".

She added: "By rights he should be arrested. He's got so much blood on his hands."

She described his attendance at the event as "the epitome of hypocrisy", and added: "We are absolutely outraged at the British establishment."

Since May 2007, Mr McGuinness has held the role of deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, in a power-sharing coalition of unionists and Irish nationalists at Stormont.

Before the banquet Mr McGuinness had praised the Queen for her "leadership role" in the peace process.

His attendance at such an occasion would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.

Sinn Féin refused to take part when the Queen made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011.

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