The Sun – 27 June 2012
A gesture too far?
Queen to shake hands with ex-IRA boss
THE QUEEN is today expected to shake hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Northern Ireland.
The meeting with the Stormont Deputy First Minister is a milestone in Anglo-Irish relations. While many see it as strengthening peace, others – on both sides – find it unpalatable.
Here are two opposing views.
By Andy McNab, ex-SAS in Northern Ireland
When the Queen shakes the hand of terrorist-turned-politician Martin McGuinness, it will still be dripping with the blood of more than 3,300 men, women and children killed by Irish terrorists.
That is over 300 murders more than al-Qaeda inflicted during the 9/11 attacks.
There must be reconciliation. Otherwise, the wounds of what politicians like to call “The Troubles” (it felt more like a bloody and grim war to me) will never heal.
That is already happening, at a speed no one dreamt of.
So before we go all cuddly over the fact that McGuinness is moving the peace process forward, think again.
This meeting has nothing to do with reconciliation but all to do with using the Queen to strengthen McGuinness and his party, Sinn Fein, across the whole of Ireland. McGuinness is soon to step down as a Westminster MP and plans to concentrate on Irish politics.
This meeting between him and the Queen will endorse him as a credible future leader of a united Ireland.
There wasn’t a single year in my 18 years of service in the infantry and SAS that I wasn’t involved in that dirty war fought in the shadows.
I had friends killed and injured and I’m not the only one who hasn’t forgotten. The families of those shot dead or blown to pieces on the streets of Belfast and Derry or in the bandit country of South Armagh haven’t.
More security forces were killed in combat year on year in Northern Ireland than Afghanistan, and the wounded still live with life-changing injuries.
This handshake is far too much, too soon, for many who experienced the so-called Troubles.