Well, I never expected to see the picture below: Martin McGuinness (1950-), former (we presume) head of the military branch of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA or PIRA as the British Army called it rather imperiously), now Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, shaking hands with Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1926-). Whatever the politics of Ireland, or of the somewhat still feudal British Monarchy, this is a heartening sight, after 3526 people were killed in the struggle between Protestants and Catholics since 1968 and which ended with the ‘Good Friday’ Peace Agreement in 1998. And both people were big enough to do this with dignity and good will, despite their personal losses.
Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, a charity which promotes peace in Northern Ireland and the Republic, said the gesture would alter things irrevocably.
“From my perspective it’s a huge act of reconciliation, you cannot underestimate how important this is,” he added.
“Whoever would have thought we would ever be in this situation – I think it says a lot about healing, human dignity and treating each other with respect.”