Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has yet to accept an invitation to dine with the Queen of England at a state dinner in honor of Ireland’s President next week.
The Sinn Fein deputy leader has been invited by the Queen to the state banquet in honor of President Michael D. Higgins at Windsor Castle.
The high profile event on Tuesday to celebrate the Irish President will
include Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson, Irish Prime
Minister Enda Kenny and his deputy Eamon Gilmore.
The Irish Times has confirmed that McGuinness, a former IRA leader, had received an invitation from the palace at the request of the queen.
A source told the newspaper there is ‘no rush at the minute’ in relation to consideration of invitations from the queen to the dinner.
The source said, “The process is ongoing. Decisions on attendance could be communicated to Buckingham Palace until “quite close to the event itself.”
However, a ‘trusted’ Belfast source told the Irish Times in relation to invitations to both Robinson and McGuinness that ‘two suits are pressed and ready’ for the historic banquet.
The paper reports that the same source said it was still unclear what would happen in relation to McGuinness’s attendance.
The source added that Sinn Féin stood to lose more by not attending than by accepting the invitation.
McGuinness and Sinn Féin leaders stayed away during the queen’s state visit to the Republic three years ago.
McGuinness did meet and shake hands with the queen during a subsequent visit to Belfast in June 2012 as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
McGuinness addressed the queen in both Irish and English during their meeting. He said it was a ‘powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership.’