Meeting with prince creates space in which to build hope, says Adams
Prince Charles and Gerry Adams have been praised for sharing an historic handshake in Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
The Prince of Wales met the Sinn Féin leader at the beginning of his four-day visit to Ireland. The handshake took place at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where Prince Charles was greeted by a number of politicians at a reception there.
It was the first meeting in the Republic of Ireland between a member of the Royal Family and Sinn Féin’s leadership and was highly significant in the act of reconciliation between the two.
“Today’s meeting with Prince Charles is a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation arising from the peace process”, Mr Adams said following a private meeting with the Prince.
Prince Charles lost his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, in 1979 at the hands of an IRA bomb that had been attached to his boat and detonated by remote control in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. The bomb destroyed his boat and resulted in his death and the deaths of his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, Lady Doreen Brabourne and a local 15-year-old boy, Paul Maxwell.
At the time, Mr Adams claimed Lord Mountbatten knew the dangers involved in coming to Ireland and, regarding his war record, he could not have objected to dying in a “war situation”. Mr Adams has always claimed he was never in the IRA, despite some claiming otherwise.
The Prince, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, first visited Ireland 30 years ago. During this visit there were demands that he apologise for the killing of 14 civilians on Bloody Sunday at the hands of paratroopers, and a small protest was held outside the event demanding the Prince do just that.
Mr Adams explained that both sides expressed regret for past events. “This week’s engagements are part of the process of building relationships, breaking down barriers to understanding and creating the space – as Seamus Heaney defined it – ‘in which hope can grow’”, said Mr Adams.
Prince Charles said he was overwhelmed and deeply touched by the “extraordinary kindness, the welcome, the enthusiasm and indeed the fun of being in Ireland”.
“You raise my spirits in many ways”, he told the Irish people and spoke of the “magic about Ireland that is totally unique”.
The historic handshake comes three years after another historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth and Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.