Prince Charles meets Irish republican leader

2015-05-19 22:01
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Galway - Prince Charles on Tuesday became the first British royal to meet Irish republican leader Gerry Adams, on a visit that will take him to the scene of his great-uncle's murder by the IRA.

Charles, the heir to the British throne, shook hands with Adams, the veteran president of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the no longer active Irish Republican Army paramilitary group.

The prince and Adams, both 66, met at the National University of Ireland's campus in Galway on the west coast, shortly after starting a two-day visit to the republic.

They shook hands in public, then later had a private meeting at Adams' request, during which, the republican figurehead said, both expressed "regret" over the Troubles - the three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland which left 3 500 people dead.

"We did discuss the need for the entire process to move forward... and the need to heal," Adams said.

"He reflected on the fact that he has suffered has given him an affinity and an understanding of other people.

"I think it's fair to say that Charles is also looking to the future and wants to be a positive influence.

"Both he and we expressed regret for what happened from 1968 onwards."

Adams said of the 15-minute meeting: "It obviously was a big thing for him to do and it was also a big thing for us to do."

Adams has always rejected allegations that he was a key figure in the IRA, which murdered Charles's beloved great-uncle, godfather and mentor Earl Mountbatten in 1979.

Before the visit, Adams had referred to Charles by his title as colonel-in-chief of the British army's Parachute Regiment.

Soldiers from the regiment were found responsible for several killings during the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre - one of the worst incidents in The Troubles.

Father figure to Charles

Seven years later, the IRA blew up a boat carrying Mountbatten at Mullaghmore off the west coast of Ireland, in one of their most high-profile assassinations.

The 79-year-old, who was the last viceroy of British-ruled India and a father figure to Charles, was killed along with two relatives, and Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old local boy who worked on the fishing boat.

Charles was presented Tuesday with a 330-million-year-old piece of fossil coral from Mullaghmore, as he toured Ireland's Marine Institute, a gift intended to give a longer-term perspective on the area.

The prince was expected to travel on Wednesday to the rugged stretch of coastline near where Mountbatten's murder took place, becoming the first royal to do so.

The visit is to include a religious service in a nearby church and will be an emotional moment for the prince.

Mountbatten's grandson, Timothy Knatchbull, who survived the bomb blast, is also expected to attend, along with Peter McHugh, a local resident who helped pull bodies from the sea, British media reported.

Adams and other senior Sinn Fein members boycotted Queen Elizabeth II's ground-breaking visit to Ireland in 2011, the first by a British monarch since the future Republic of Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922.

But Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a Sinn Fein leader who was an IRA commander in the 1970s, later shook hands with the queen during her visit to Belfast in 2012 in a historic meeting.

Charles praises Irish spirit

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said Charles's visit would celebrate Irish-British ties "while also acknowledging more difficult moments from the past".

Charles kicked off the trip, described by palace aides as promoting "peace and reconciliation", by praising the "wonderful spirit" of the Irish and the "fun of being in Ireland".

"There is a magic, a unique magic about Ireland which is totally irresistible. So wherever I go in the world and meet Irish people, I promise you, it always makes me feel better," he said at the university.

A major security operation was in place for the two-day visit, days after Irish police found guns and explosive materials in a series of raids.

Charles and his wife Camilla will visit Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, on Thursday and Friday.

In 1995, Charles became the first member of the royal family to visit the country since independence. He visited again in 2002.

Read more on:    ireland  |  uk

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.