The Sinn Fein Mayor of Cashel Michael Browne shook hands with the Queen of England in Tipperary on Friday – and was immediately denounced by his party.
Browne made history as the first member of his party to shake the Queen’s hand when he welcomed her to the world famous Rock of Cashel.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and various members of his parliamentary party had refused all invitations to meet the British monarch during her four day state visit to Ireland.
But Browne bucked the trend as one of several dignitaries invited to meet the royal party at the historic Rock of Cashel site just outside the Tipperary town.
Afterwards, the Cashel Lord Mayor played down the significance of his gesture even as his party moved to distance themselves from his actions.
Claiming it was his civic duty as the town’s Mayor to shake hands with the Queen, Browne claimed: “I just shook hands with her.”
He added: “I just said to her ‘welcome to Cashel Your Majesty and I hope you enjoy your stay’. No more, no less.”
The wheelchair bound Mayor Browne added that the Queen had thanked him for his welcome.
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Buckingham Palace were aware of Browne’s political standing before the Queen arrived in Cashel on the final day of her historic Irish tour, the first by a Britain royal in the history of the state.
Asked by reporters if he was the first member of Sinn Fein to meet the Queen and shake hands, Browne said: “I would say so, yeah.”
His actions didn’t go down well however with local Sinn Fein officials in Tipperary despite a statement released by their party leader Gerry Adams earlier in the day welcoming the Queen’s expression of sympathy for all victims of the Troubles and violence in Ireland.
Local Sinn Fein spokesman Muiris O Suilleabhain expressed surprise at Browne’s actions.
“Party members in Tipperary were surprised by Michael Browne’s action, especially as he recently signed a statement against the English queen’s visit to the Rock of Cashel,” said O Suilleabhain.
“Sinn Fein’s position on the visit of the English Queen to Ireland is that it is premature and we are opposed to it and that its elected members should not attend any of the events related to it.”