A government Minister and a Fine Gael deputy have attacked Martin McGuinness’s planned handshake with the Queen Elizabeth as little more than a publicity stunt.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister is due to shake the Queen’s hand in a private meeting in Belfast this week during her Jubilee celebration visit.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announced on Sunday that his party have no issue with releasing a photo of the handshake.
But Irish government minister Brian Hayes and his Fine Gael parliamentary party colleague Simon Harris have attacked the planned meeting between the Republican politician and English monarch.
Hayes accused Sinn Fein of engaging in a ‘cheap little media game’ and ‘hyping a very minor’ event, according to the Sunday Independent newspaper.
He said: “We all know Sinn Fein has been playing a cheap little media game on this issue.
“Sinn Fein showed bad judgement by not attending a State dinner for the Queen at Dublin Castle during her successful visit to Ireland in May last year.”
Hayes also hit out at Irish state broadcaster RTE. He said: they are dancing to Sinn Fein’s tune by giving such prominence to a so-called historic handshake.
“The idea that the former hard man of the IRA is having a fit of the vapours over meeting the Queen is rather pathetic. It’s all about Sinn Fein milking headlines.
“The question for RTE is this: why are you dancing to Sinn Fein’s tune?”
Wicklow deputy Harris added: “Whilst the Sinn Fein spin machine goes into overdrive trying to over-hype a photograph, they have yet to answer many legitimate questions which the Irish people expect answers to, both in terms of how they use public funds in relation to hiring of staff, and also the many outstanding questions that citizens of our country put to Martin McGuinness during his failed presidential bid.”
Harris continued: “I think it is astonishing the disproportionate amount of coverage that Sinn Fein are receiving for engaging in a civilised act which is years overdue.
“It is clear that they are now a partitionist party in a very real way; protesting against the Queen’s visit to the Republic whilst happily greeting her in Northern Ireland.
“Yet again with Sinn Fein it’s one policy in the North and the complete opposite in the South. Such hypocrisy would not be tolerated from any other political party.
“By all means, let Martin McGuinness shake the Queen’s hand and as a result run to catch up with the rest of Irish society - but can we please then get back to real politics?”