Prince Charles to meet Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams

Prince is making two-day visit to western Ireland including to the beauty spot where IRA killed Lord Mountbatten

Prince Charles will meet Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams when he greets a number of Irish political leaders on Tuesday during a two-day visit to western Ireland.

Adams is one of more than 100 guests due to attend an event at the National University of Ireland Galway.

The prince’s itinerary with his wife Camilla will also include a visit to Mullaghmore, the County Sligo beauty spot where his great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed in an IRA bomb in August 1979. At the time of the explosion, in which two teenage boys were also killed, Adams was a leading figure in the Republican movement.

Adams justified the attack at the time, saying: “With his war record, I don’t think [Mountbatten] could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation. He knew the danger involved in coming to this country.”

Sinn Féin sources told the Irish media on Monday that Adams was prepared to shake the prince’s hand during a reception at the university to which all of Ireland’s political parties have been invited.

A senior Sinn Féin strategist confirmed that Adams and Martin McGuinness, the former IRA chief of staff who has met the Queen twice, would both be meeting the prince at different venues on the royal tour of the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Adams requested the meeting with Charles, and the prince, whose visit is set to embrace the theme of peace and reconciliation, accepted the invitation, according to sources.

Declan Kearney, the party’s national chairman, said: “This was agreed to promote the process of resolving past injustices and promoting reconciliation and healing.”

The encounter in Galway is the first time Adams has met any member of the British royal family.

Charles has met McGuinness before when the two shook hands and spoke briefly at the Irish State Banquet hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle in April last year.

Analysts suggest the meeting is probably aimed at detoxifying the party’s public image with middle-class voters in the Irish Republic where a general election is taking place next year.

But the handshake is likely to enrage traditional republicans and campaigners who have highlighted the role of the British army in a number of controversial killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

A protest against the visit is being held on Tuesday by relatives of civilians killed in the so-called Ballymurphy Masscare in August 1971 when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire in the west Belfast district. Prince Charles is the colonel-in-chief of the regiment, which was also responsible for the 13 deaths at Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972.

There is also planned protest against the visit to Galway in the centre of the western Irish city on Tuesday morning.


Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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