Sinn Fein’s leaders have expressed their sympathies to those mourning the death of the Queen, extending their condolences to unionists in particular.
The comments from the republican leaders are the latest in the development of diplomatic relations between Sinn Fein and the British establishment that would not have been thought possible in the years prior to the peace process.
In response to the news of the death, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “To the royal family and all who mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth, especially Irish unionists, I extend sincere sympathy.
“She lived a long, full life.
“In her lifetime relationships between our countries were changed and changing. I salute her contribution to this transformation.”
To the Royal Family and all who mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth, especially Irish Unionists, I extend sincere sympathy. She lived a long, full life. In her lifetime relationships between our countries were changed and changing. I salute her contribution to this transformation
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) September 8, 2022
Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said she had learned of the death of the Queen with “deep regret”, and wished to acknowledge “the profound sorrow of our neighbours from within the unionist community who will feel her loss deeply”.
It comes 11 years after Sinn Fein snubbed the Queen’s historic visit to Ireland, the first by a British monarch in 100 years, in a move that was labelled as out of sync with the general sentiment on the island of Ireland.
The following year, former IRA commander and then NI deputy first minister Martin McGuinness shook hands with the Queen in Belfast in a symbolic gesture of progress that made headlines across the world.
This was made more significant by the fact that as part of the IRA’s terrorist campaign against the British establishment, the Queen’s second cousin Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in Co Sligo in 1979.
In 2015, during a visit to Ireland which included travelling to the scene where his great uncle was killed, Charles shook hands with the then Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in what was deemed another historic moment in developing diplomatic relations.