The Queen to meet Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness in historic meeting

Tim Ewart

Former Royal Editor

The Queen will begin her historic visit to Northern Ireland today Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

It is officially part of her Diamond Jubilee programme, but the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland today has taken on a far greater significance.

Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, a former IRA commander, says that when he shakes the Queen's hand tomorrow it will be a handshake with all unionists.

Not everyone is happy with the gesture. Stephen Gault, one of the survivors, of the 1987 Poppy Day bomb in Enniskillen, believes that until those responsible for that attack are brought to justice any such gesture is inappropriate.

But the majority seem to welcome what will be seen as an historic sign of reconciliation.

The Queen will start her visit in Enniskillen, attending a service of thanksgiving at the Protestant cathedral and then crossing the road to the local Catholic church.

Survivors of the 1987 bomb and relatives of those who died will meet her.

The Queen made history last year with her visit to Dublin and the wreath laying at the Garden of Remembrance, created to honour those who died fighting for Irish independence.

This trip to Northern Ireland promises to be equally historic.