The Queen receives credit for her forgiving nature as she shakes hands with former IRA man Martin McGuinness but few people look at the meeting from McGuinness' point of view.
Much has been made of the handshake between Martin McGuiness and the Queen that took place in Belfast today. The Daily Mail said the Queen "performed an astonishing act of forgiveness" as it was the IRA of whom McGuinness was a commander who killed her cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979 but the handshake was done "in the name of peace" and "Her Majesty somehow even found it within her to smile"
However Reverend Peter Mullen writing in The Daily Telegraph was less impressed and believed the Queen was forced into the handshake by the British government
"Of all the malicious, cynical gimmicks perpetrated by Cameron’s Government…..could there be anything worse than making the Queen shake hands with Martin McGuinness"
He offers no evidence to support what he says but finishes his article by asking:
"Would you like a drink?
What will you have?
I could murder a McGuinness."
This coming from a Church of England priest.
However few people have looked at this from McGuiness point of view and the risk he is taking in meeting the Queen. The Irish republican movement is unforgiving to those it believes has let down or turned traitor to the cause. McGuinness is a former leading member of the IRA and became SinnFein's chief negotiator from the IRA ceasefire in 1994 to the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998. He later became an MLA (member of the legislative assembly) and in 2004 he became deputy First Minister.
"Let us remind our former comrade [Martin McGuinness] of the nature and actions of a traitor. Treachery is collaborating with the enemy, treachery is betraying your country."
He then referred to Denis Donaldson a former Sinn Fein member who was shot dead after confessing he was a British spy.
"Let us give our one-time comrade an example. Denis Donaldson was a traitor and the leadership of the Provisional movement, under guidance from the British Government, made provision for Donaldson to escape republican justice".
"It fell to the volunteers of Oglaigh na hEireann [the IRA] to carry out the sentence and punishment demanded in our army orders and by the wider republican family. No traitor will escape justice regardless of time, rank, past actions."
He finished by saying
"The republican movement has a long memory."
More recently the Real IRA have said that they are not a threat to McGuinness "Why would we turn him into a so-called martyr?" a representative said. The Guardian reports that he has offered to meet dissident republicans "with the aim of dissuading them from their armed campaign."
Whatever one thinks of Martin McGuiness it cannot be denied that he has taken great personal risks in being involved in ending the IRA campaign and standing for election to the Northern Ireland assembly. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for killing Denis Donaldson and although they may claim that they don't want to turn him into a "martyr" shaking hands with the Queen will give dissident republicans another excuse to make him another victim of Northern Ireland's troubles.