Northern Ireland political leaders meet King Charles III at Hillsborough Castle

King Charles III met members of the main political parties in Northern Ireland during a visit to Hillsborough Castle.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill told the King she was sorry for his deep loss.

"Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by those of a British identity here who with great pride and devotion held her very dear,” she said.

"She led by example in advancing peace and reconciliation and the building of relationships with those of us who are Irish, and who share a different political allegiance and aspirations to herself and her Government.

"I hope this continues now that you are King and the British-Irish relationship strengthens and evolves as one era ends, and a new one begins in these changing times."

The speaker of the Stormont Assembly Alex Maskey described how the Queen had been part of efforts to build peace in Ireland.

In a message of condolence on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, he said the Queen had not been "a distant observer" in the transformation and progress of relationships among the people of the country.

He said the monarch had "demonstrated how individual acts of positive leadership can help break down barriers and encourage reconciliation".

Mr Maskey added: "She showed that a small and insignificant gesture - a visit, a handshake, crossing the street or speaking a few words of Irish – can make a huge difference in changing attitudes and building relationships."

The Queen's recognition of both British and Irish traditions, as well as the wider diversity of the community was "exceptionally significant".

He added: "In all of this she personally underlined that one tradition is not diminished by reaching out to show respect to another."


“There is an important political significance to what has happened,” UTV’s Political Editor Tracey Magee said.

“We had a very carefully calibrated speech from the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“In what Michelle O’Neill said to the King, again this idea of Sinn Féin, the Republican movement, paying tribute to the Queen’s work, but also recognising that unionism, the Protestant community, is very upset by what has happened.

“I think this will be a very important moment for those who follow politics in Northern Ireland, people will pour over the speech today because of all the political nuance in it, but also that message from the King that he is going to follow in the example of his mother and work towards building bridges and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.”

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