“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!

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  • I have my doubts about the value of another thread on the topic of SF meeting the Queen.

  • I think she is right.
    But people who are public representatives probably have to put up with doing some things that the rest of us dont have to worry about.
    Im sure that is true of Martin McGuinness.
    And also true of “the Queen”.
    I suspect that most people who are committed to Sinn Fein see it all as a “necessary” thing to do. But I really wonder just how detached Sinn Fein is becoming from its natural hinterland of support and indeed the uncommitted voters who gave them the benefit of the doubt that they would be more resolute in negotiating with unionists than rivals.
    I suspect this ..and other things likely to present themselves in the next decade……makes them a little more vulnerable than before.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think the “destabilize the peace process” thing is a bit ridiculous.

    fitz, the SDLP took the oath and SF highlighted this a while back by posting the excerpts from BBC Parliament where each SDLP MP raised their hand and swore to the Queen. Just a reminder before we start getting too picky about who sacrificed what principles in order to get stuff done.

  • Indeed.
    But rather obviously not many people who vote SDLP are overly concerned about the oath or its pragmatism or they wouldnt vote SDLP.
    The point being that people who vote Sinn Féin are perhaps more likely to get worked up about that kinda thing.

  • The point being that people who vote Sinn Féin are perhaps more likely to get worked up about that kinda thing.

    C’mon FJH. You know better than that. Perhaps the 8-10% who voted for them prior to them eschewing violence. The rest couldn’t give two s**ts.

  • RyanAdams

    I find myself in agreement with Fitz.

    And the same goes for the DUP and Robinson. The more each other tries to outreach by doing things that would not be ‘traditional in one community’, the greater the risk of upsetting the hardliners. SF may soon face an uncomfortable challange from the left as the DUP have with the TUV. I doubt we’ve heard the last of Eirigi/IRSP in West Belfast.

  • Mr Canuck….I think for most republicans including those in England and Australia for example, anything to do with monarchy is irrelevant and a bit embarrassing for public representatives who have to go thru the motions.
    I do of course realise that the meeting is of significance….not least in the way it will be spun in our three communities…nationalist, unionist and lets get alongerist.
    I do however disagree ….in my humble opinion the SF core vote are at least as likely to accept this as the “soft” SF vote.
    Indeed Id argue that the core vote see it as necessary but the soft vote might be somewhat skeptical.

    As to the oath question….if Im ever elected as SDLP MP for North Down (and indeed why not?) Id happily do what is necessary to take my seat in the House of Commons. Id happily affirm my undying loyalty to anybody…..although my personal preference would be for not involving God or the Bible…..lest I be struck down by a lightning bolt.
    And when Black Rod summons me to another place, Id happily remain seated on the Commons benches.

  • Dissent shall not go unpunished, as Ms. Bethan Jenkins has discovered. Better to stick to the Party line.

  • Yes we have heard the last of éirigí.
    Its not the hardliners SF have to worry about.

  • Dewi

    Hmmm….the older I get the more disinterested I am in the whole palaver….my personal view is that Bethan and Leanne should just ignore it all…as I’m certain Liz would like to….

  • fitzjameshorse1745,

    I agree; Irrelevant is the key word.

  • RyanAdams


    I’m inclined to think its more of a concern at the hard end. I imagine them to be more disillusioned at a comphremise on what some may see as a key republican principle. I can’t imagine the average Glengormley/Balmoral shinner getting too ticked off at this. Only from the point of view that it may open up a question over what separates SF from the SDLP – especially in light of the latter forfeiting its tickets for the Jubilee event.

  • Dixie Elliott

    At times like this I remember a photo of Gerry Fitt surveying the burnt out remains of his house. It seems that Fitt’s mistake was that he got to where McGuinness is today 30 odd years too early.

    The most nauseating thing for me as Republican is that Fitt never carried young men and women to early graves nor did he send them out to kill or serve long years in jail.

    On Sunday the Queen’s own Shinner had the gall to pose for a photo at Derry’s monument to those dead volunteers in some sick proproganda stunt that attempts to claim that their sacrifices brought about the situation where he could meet the British Queen. And that this meeting is all part of a plan to fool Unionists into becoming Republicans.

    Only a Shinner could be so stupid as to believe this.

  • Dixie,

    Are you really nauseated that Fitt did not send young men and women out to kill or serve long years in jail or did you misspeak?

  • michael-mcivor

    Nobody should run from Twitter no matter how stupid or anti – peace that they are-
    But like her party leader south wales AM Bethan jenkins has no problem with taking the Crown oath-

  • Hilariously, Vernon Coaker’s email press release attacking said Welsh Assembly member seems to contain half his expenses claims. Sadly, nothing too embarrassing. Think Sam McBride did a story on it in the News Letter.

  • Rory Carr

    While I very much doubt that McGuinness’s decision to meet with HRH was formed in naivety (a naive Martin McGuinness is not a character image that easily springs to mind), neverthelees I find myself warming to Ms Jenkins. This is probably because, not only does she express herself with quiet disarming forthrightness, but also because I share her distaste for monarchy and would that such creatures were all put out to grass.

    But, against all odds, they cling on and reality must be faced, I/we might not care for their like but there are others who do and we must live with them in tolerance and respect. That the respective figure headss of northern Irish nationalism and northern Irish unionism should meet and be cordial with each other can only but progress mutual tolerance within Northern Ireland and further afield across the (temporary) border and that is an outcome to be desired.

    This Labour fellow who made such a meal of his objection to Ms Jenkin’s remarks really only served to make a complete tit of himself and it is he who is an embarrassment and a threat. An embarrassment because of his over-the-top, bullying reaction and a threat because he threatens free speech itself.

    It is not as if Ms Jenkins has shouted, “FIRE !” in a crowded theatre after all, she has merely complained of the performance of the leading man.

    P.s. Dixie Elliot might wish to re-read his second paragraph – the meaning it expresses is, we might think, completely the opposite of that which he intended.

  • Siôn Jones

    I’m sure McGuinness has been called far worse than Naive in the past – by the Queen and her flunkies and ministers, for instance, so why this should have been inflated into such a kerfuffle is difficult to fathom. Perhaps the Labour party desperately finding anything they can to try to undermine the nationalist party in Wales ahead of the Scottish referendum.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Living as she does in West Britain it’s possible that Ms Jenkins is not particularly clued-up on politics in Northern Ireland.

    However her ‘shock’ that her local political opponents would take advantage of her faux pas indicates she may not be fully up to speed on politics generally.

  • Rory Carr

    I would have no fears for Ms Jenkins not being “fully up to speed on politics generally” as SonofStrongbow imagines. I am quite she that she is indeed most astute and although I happen to disagrre with her on this particular issue I would not relish having to cross swords with her on any political matter. She marshals her arguments well and she sure knows how to phrase them. She writes like a dream.

    But then, as she and I are both republicans, I expect that we shall find ourselves more genearlly on the same side in most current debates.

  • HeinzGuderian

    “But then, as she and I are both republicans, I expect that we shall find ourselves more genearlly on the same side in most current debates.”

    Indeed. You are both in the quaint position of being ‘republicans’,livingin the United Kingdom.


  • Dixie Elliott

    “The most nauseating thing for me as Republican is that Fitt never carried young men and women to early graves nor did he send them out to kill or serve long years in jail.”

    I should indeed have phrased the above a lot better. My meaning plain and simple is that Fitt, Hume and the SDLP were at the same place, now reached by Adams and McGuinness, over 30 years ago and no one died to get them there.

  • streetlegal

    Queen Elizabeth has probably been well-briefed. It has been suggested that Mr McGuinness was successfully recruited by British Intelligence at some stage in the 1980s and like others within the Provisional command – such as Mr Scapaticci – he continued to operate as a double agent. It is just a suggestion and we will probably never know the truth. This period of the unravelling of the Provisional command structures was documented in the Brendan Hughes tapes.

    Might this handshake be seen as ‘the spy who came in from the cold’.