Queen Elizabeth II in green on the day she shook hands with Martin McGuinness
Photo by: Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth’s handshake with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last week, as well as the better news from Europe that, finally, Germany may be amenable to a new direction on solving the European economic mess, made for a good week in Ireland.
The McGuinness royal handshake was a Kodak moment for the peace process, another nail in the coffin of the dissenters and a clear acceptance that all has changed utterly in Northern Ireland.
Both sides appeared to handle it very well.
The talk before the handshake was obviously about the critical moments when McGuinness took on the issue of Lord Mountbatten’s death head on and discussed it with Elizabeth. Mountbatten was killed on his yacht by an IRA bomb off the coast of Sligo in 1979.
That directness is typical of the Sinn Fein leader, a man who never uses words to excess but always focuses on the kernel of the issue.
Many politicians would have sought to sidestep that particular time bomb, but McGuinness preferred to deal with it completely directly.
For her part, clad in green, the Queen was clearly making a major effort to bring the Irish/British rapprochement to a new level.
Praise too for Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson, the former Ian Paisley acolyte, who made the introduction to the Queen with McGuinness. A few years back such a moment would have been utterly impossible.
It all shows how far the North and the peace process have come.