Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA chief Martin McGuinness has heaped praise on the Queen for taking a leadership role in the Irish peace process.
The former MP, who refused to sit in the Commons and who snubbed the ground-breaking royal visit to Ireland in 2011, will be a special guest at a state banquet at Windsor Castle during the first official visit to the UK of an Irish President this week.
Confirming his attendance at the event in Michael D Higgins’s honour, Mr McGuinness said the Queen was a “staunch supporter” of the peace process.
“I think she played a leadership role and is playing a leadership role in the whole context of the need for reconciliation,” he said.
Mr McGuinness was given the green light to accept the invitation during a leadership meeting of his party, Sinn Fein.