“I respect those who believe that he should shake hands with the Queen as part of his role, but it does not mean that I personally have to support this.”

There’s been a bit of a political kerfuffle in Wales over the forthcoming ‘historic’ meeting between the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, and the Queen as she tours the UK to mark her Diamond Jubilee.  [Mark Devenport is on tour?! – Ed]  No, he’s not the Queen.

As the BBC reports

A Plaid Cymru Assembly Member is taking a break from Twitter after describing Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness as “naive” for agreeing to meet the Queen.

Apparently, in the since deleted tweet, the South Wales AM Bethan Jenkins used “the Welsh term ‘hollol naif’ (‘totally naive’)”[Does Dewi know? – Ed]  *ahem*. 

In one of her 2 most recent tweets today Bethan Jenkins announced

And as the BBC report also notes

Miss Jenkins shares the republican views of her party leader Leanne Wood, who recently turned down an invitation to attend a service with the Queen at Llandaff Cathedral to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

On her blog Bethan Jenkins expands on her decision

For the record, I don’t see why having a view on Martin McGuiness meeting the Queen should have been escalated into a full scale row by the Labour party. I fail to see why putting my opinion out there warrants me needing to apologise, as they suggest in a press release.

It is incredible that the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would take the step of accusing me of seeking to destabilise the Northern Irish peace process. He clearly does not know me at all, and cannot possibly know me based on a tweet of 140 characters.

Surely scaremongering like this from the Labour party is detracting from the good work that all political parties are doing at a grass roots and political level in the North of Ireland, to work together in making politics work for all?

I also fail to see how I could possibly destabilise such a process as an Assembly Member in Wales – especially given the complex history in the North of Ireland – and given that I have a clear interest in seeing peace work there.

My mother is from Belfast, and I do not have a bone in my body that would wish violence and disorder again on the communities and streets of that city, or others in the North of Ireland. I also wrote my university dissertation on the Northern Irish peace process, and the external influences of the USA (among others) on the success of that process. I have taken the time to learn about my history, and to support the work that is currently being carried out via the process of devolution across these British Isles.

I stand by my view regarding Martin McGuiness. Just because I have a different view does not make it wrong, however. I respect those who believe that he should shake hands with the Queen as part of his role, but it does not mean that I personally have to support this.

Welcome to the Peace Process™, Bethan!