Like boiling a frog… After the party’s opposition to her first truly historic official visit to Ireland, this week, on the third occasion of the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s forgetful Martin McGuinness, being presented to the UK Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, the earlier pretence has finally been dropped. As Liam Clarke notes in the Belfast Telegraph
In another sense, the Queen and Martin McGuinness may look back on how difficult that first meeting between them had been to arrange and choreograph and how much things have moved on since. Now meetings seem almost routine and we have dispensed with the fig leaf – employed by Mr McGuinness the last time she was here – that he wasn’t meeting her in an official capacity.
There was a lot of flim-flam to get it all through the Sinn Fein ard chomhairle, which had, a year earlier, opposed a royal visit to the Republic. The meeting wasn’t on the Queen’s home turf and wasn’t even, it was said without much conviction, part of her visit to Belfast. It was a charity event in a theatre which they both happened to be attending alongside Michael D Higgins, the Irish President.
Now that has all been dispensed with. Mr McGuinness is, just like Peter Robinson and Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State, enjoying an audience with the Queen at her official royal residence in Northern Ireland.