The decision to have Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness meet the Queen next week is an effort to reach out to unionists in Northern Ireland, his party leader has said.
Gerry Adams told republicans in west Belfast that he opposed the idea of monarchy, but wanted to reassure unionists of their place in his vision of a united Ireland.
This week's meeting is a clear expression of our desire to engage with our unionist neighbours and to demonstrate that we are prepared, once again, to go beyond the rhetoric, as we seek to persuade them that our new Ireland will not be a cold house for unionists or any other section of our people
He said his party was correct to boycott the Queen's historic visit to the Republic of Ireland last year, but predicted the historic handshake planned for Wednesday would be a milestone in the peace process.
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