Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness has admitted for the first time that he would consider meeting the Queen of England.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister is expected to be invited to meet the British royal when she visits Ulster later this year as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations.
McGuinness’s Sinn Féin party declined to attend any of the functions when the Queen paid her first state visit to Ireland last year.
“Any decision will be a matter for the party but I want to been seen as a representative of all the people in Northern Ireland,” McGuinness told Irish state broadcaster RTE.
“I think it is important to recognise that I’m Deputy First Minister for all the people, not just
Republicans, Nationalists or those Catholics who think I should be supported in this administration.
“I want to be Deputy First Minister for everyone, for the Unionist people, for the Loyalists, for the Protestants, for the dissenters and those who don’t believe in anything.
“As regards how we’d deal with the situation, there’ll be some dialogue and discussion about what we might have to deal with in the period ahead.
“I’m sure it’ll be done in a civilised and cordial fashion. Obviously, I’d have some of my own ideas of how we should approach such a situation.”
Asked about the Queen’s visit to Dublin, McGuinness said: “Was I pleased that she spoke Irish at Dublin Castle? I was.
“Was I pleased that she stood very reverently to honour those who had given their lives in the Easter Rising for Ireland’s freedom? I was impressed by that.
“But what was I most impressed with? I was most impressed with her speech in Dublin Castle when she talked about how we could all have wished that things could have been done differently or not at all.
“I think that when she said that it was her acknowledgement - this is my interpretation - that Britain could have done an awful lot of things better in the past.
“So all of that has to be taken into account before final decisions are made.”