Handshake ‘does not absolve republican terrorists’

The Prince of Wales (left) shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland
The Prince of Wales (left) shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland

The historic handshake between Prince Charles and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams does not “cleanse republican terrorists of what they inflicted on this society”.

The claim comes after the Prince of Wales and Mr Adams shook hands for several seconds and exchanged words in a packed hall on Tuesday at the National University of Ireland Galway in the first engagement of the Royal’s packed four-day agenda.

The Sinn Fein president is the most senior republican to meet the prince and it comes after his party colleague Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander, shook hands with Charles at a state banquet in Windsor Castle last year and met the Queen in 2012.

The meeting in Galway also came on the eve of the Royal’s emotional walkabout in the seaside village of Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA.

Reflecting on the meeting Kenny Donaldson, from Innocent Victims United, said: “The establishment needs to be clear that because the head of state and immediate heir to the throne have shaken the hands of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, this does not signal UK citizens (and particularly victims and survivors) cleansing republican terrorists of what they inflicted on this society, along with their equivalents in loyalist terror groups and the small number of former security force members who engaged in criminal acts.

“Victims and survivors will not assist any rewrite of our history – they will continue to lead the way in protecting the integrity of the past.”

Mr Donaldson added: “Genuine reconciliation within a society which has been so deeply traumatised by terrorism and violence cannot come via a bottom down approach of political choreography, rather there must be an embedding of the principles of right and wrong copper-fastened by justice, truth and accountability processes – this then creates the framework for a bottom up focused process of healing.”

Mr Donaldson said they were also “mindful of other victims and their families caught up in the Mullaghmore outrage” as “their lives had and have equal value to that of Royalty and Lord Mountbatten”.

“We also remember those murdered at Narrow Water – the 18 soldiers and the civilian casualties who were also extinguished that terrible day in 1979 as a consequence of the actions of PIRA terrorists or subversives.”

FAIR spokesman Willie Frazer added that the meeting between Prince Charles and Gerry Adams “was not about promoting peace”.

Kenny Donaldson

Kenny Donaldson

“People are saying how great this is for the peace process, but Sinn Fein are using this to their own ends.”