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Comment 26 JUNE 2012

Queen 'takes a risk for peace' with historic Northern Ireland visit

26 JUNE 2012

On Tuesday, the Queen arrived in Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour.

The monarch's return to the Emerald Isle comes just over a year after she became the first reigning sovereign to visit the Republic of Ireland.

And her latest tour will yield another historical moment.


 

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Her Majesty will shake hands with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness – who is now Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister.

In an interview with the BBC, he described the meeting as "taking a risk for peace". 

"It's another bit of history. It's about recognising, in terms of my own community where I come from, that there have been many people who have been badly hurt as a result of state violence." 

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the sovereign began her tour of Belfast and County Fermanagh by attending a thanksgiving service in St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen.

The town was the scene of the 'Poppy Day Massacre' – where 11 people perished during the IRA's 1987 attack on a war memorial during Remembrance Sunday. 

 

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A 700-strong congregation listened as the Archbishop of Armagh, Alan Harper, praised the monarch's efforts in advancing Anglo-Irish relations, citing her milestone 2011 visit to the Irish Republic as "an occasion of profound significance and deep emotion".

On the streets, hundreds of well wishers braved the bad weather to show their support for the visit. 

The royal party themselves arrived over an hour late after poor conditions forced their plane to divert.

Further details of the two-day visit are being kept under wraps due to security concerns.

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