Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness would welcome the Queen of England back to Ireland if he becomes President.
The latest candidate to be formally announced for the October Presidential election has said he would have no problem hosting another Royal visit.
McGuinness wants to be President of the Republic of Ireland for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule.
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But he wouldn’t have any issue with acting as head of state for another visit by Queen Elizabeth despite Sinn Fein’s objections to her first visit this summer.
Even as Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister, McGuinness has shunned all meetings, official or otherwise, with Britain’s Royal family.
But he will make an exception if he wins the race for the Aras and will welcome the British monarch like any other head of a foreign state.
McGuinness declared: “If the people of Ireland decided that I should be their president, my responsibilities and duties would be to meet heads of state from all over the world and to do that without exception, and that would be my position.”
Just back from an official visit to America, where he encouraged Hollywood movie moguls to invest in Northern Ireland as part of the trip, McGuinness is well aware his IRA past will become a political potato in this election campaign.
McGuinness told reporters on his return to Belfast from the States that he is ready to tackle questions about the IRA.
But he also believes his role in the peace process should be given due consideration.
“I hope it does not become a major issue,” said McGuinness when asked about his IRA history. “No doubt there will be people within the media, particularly the hostile media, who will attempt to do just that.”
“The same prospect faced our party leader Gerry Adams when he moved into politics in the Republic but it did not prevent him winning a seat in the last General Election.
“The past is a terrible place but I think I am seen very much as a part of the future. This is about new beginnings and I have been at the heart of new beginnings.”
Derry-born McGuinness also pointed to recent comments by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about his government’s role in the Troubles.
“It was very big of him to say during the course of many negotiations that he believed that successive British governments were as responsible for what happened in the North as anybody else,” added McGuinness.