Ireland's president hails Queen and McGuinness handshake

Ireland's President Michael D Higgins will attend the historic event Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ireland's President has hailed plans for an historic handshake between the Queen and Martin McGuinness.

President Michael D Higgins will also attend the event where the long awaited encounter is set to take place in Belfast next Wednesday.

The charity Co-operation Ireland is hosting a celebration of culture on the island of Ireland in Belfast's Lyric Theatre and the venue will provide the stage for the first meeting between Sinn Fein and the Queen.

President Higgins, who is visiting Irish communities in Britain, said: "I accepted the invitation on the basis that it would be an inclusive occasion."

He said he hoped the meeting would help foster reconciliation in Northern Ireland.