Wow! The Queen Of England Shaking Hands With A Former IRA Commander

Earlier today, in an event in Belfast organised by the charity Co-Operation Ireland, the Queen of England and the Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness shook hands for the first time.

Queen McGuiness

Photo: Getty / WPA Pool

The symbolism here is huge.

McGuinness is a member of Sinn Feinn and formerly an IRA commander. He became a convicted terrorist in the 1970s when he was caught with 250lb of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition in his car, and many argue his links with the IRA continued long after he formally renounced his membership in 1974.

In the 1980s McGuinness emerged as a key member in the peace process, and helped lead Northern Ireland to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

As he shook her hand, McGuinness, who still remains an Irish Republican, said to the Queen in Irish, “Goodbye and God bless,” the BBC reports.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.