Queen meeting ‘not do-able’

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said it would be a “huge ask” for any republican to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr McGuinness was speaking about plans for Queen’s Jubilee party at Stormont on June 27 which were announced by the Northern Ireland Office on Friday.

He said it was “unfortunate” that the plans had been announced without his party being consulted on the matter.

“As we speak, we do not have a do-able proposition in relation to this,” he explained.

The Northern Ireland Office announcement about a Stormont party for the Queen sparked controversy over the weekend. The move led to intense weekend speculation about Sinn Féin’s role in any such event.

Mr McGuinness was critical of the NIO, arguing that they should have left the matter to the Stormont Executive.

He highlighted the DUP First Minister Peter Robinson’s wish to send a gift to the Queen on behalf of Northern Ireland on the occasion of her Jubilee had been handled in a sensitive and diplomatic way.

“In relation to the controversy at the weekend, at the last Executive meeting we handled the whole situation around the decision of Peter Robinson and unionist ministers to send a gift to the Queen in a very diplomatic and sensible manner.

“The announcement made by the NIO on Friday was unfortunate.”

The celebration at the Stormont estate later this month is due to happen has part of the Queen’s two-day visit to the region during her Jubilee tour.

Around 10,000 free tickets will be made available to the public for the event.

On Sunday, Sinn Féin culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin said event had not been agreed by the executive and added that she would not be attending.

“I assume this is something that has been concocted by the NIO in discussions probably with the DUP,” Minister Ni Chuilin said.