Martin McGuinness reveals he spoke to the Queen about cousin’s murder

MARTIN McGuinness told the Queen that he recognised she had suffered a personal loss in the Northern Ireland Troubles when they met last week, the former IRA commander has revealed.

The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland said he addressed the 1979 murder of her cousin Earl Mountbatten when he met her privately in Belfast last Wednesday.

Mr McGuinness said he would not detail exactly what he said during the eight-minute discussion in the Lyric Theatre, which the Duke of Edinburgh also attended, or how the Queen responded. But he did say the Queen was very gracious.

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Referring to the assassination off Co Sligo in the Irish Republic, he said: “I said to them that I recognised that they too had lost a loved one. I did not shy away from the issue because I think these are things that we need to face up to.

“I will not repeat what she said as that would not be proper, but she was absolutely understanding of the need for everybody to work together to ensure that we don’t go back to the past. She was very gracious about it.”

Mr McGuinness revealed some of the detail of the private meeting during a talk show on RTE television. The killing was discussed briefly after an historic handshake between the pair which has been hailed as a watershed moment in Anglo-Irish relations. Mr McGuinness has not discussed any of the detail of the meeting until now. When he left the theatre he would only say that the Queen was very nice and that he was still a Republican.

Mr McGuinness was convicted in 1973 by Ireland’s Special Criminal Court after being caught in a car with explosives and ammunition. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. He has always insisted that he left the IRA in 1974 to pursue a career in politics – five years before the IRA assassinated Lord Mountbatten.