Queen Elizabeth to shake hands with ex-IRA leader Martin McGuinness

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The Queen of England will shake hands with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness next week, signifying cessation of hostilities that have gone on for centuries and left countless on both sides crippled, maimed, and dead.

The meeting will be poignant for the Queen and for the Duke of Edinburgh, since the Duke’s uncle Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by an IRA bomb in 1979.

Expat Brit Geoff Gilson eloquently expresses on Facebook why this is a huge act of courage for both sides.

It takes enormous courage for both parties of a long-standing conflict to put their differences in the past.

It takes incredible compassion for those with still vivid memories of personal injury and pain to support such outreach.

And it takes magnificent understanding and restraint for the rest of us not to misinterpret the gesture, and thereby undermine the courage and compassion.

All of this represents the welcome difference between regression and progression, which itself is the mark of forward-looking and civilized peoples.

Congratulations to all.

From the comments on the Telegraph

The fact of the matter is that factions that have had a burning hatred for each other for hundreds of years, each with their own real grudge, visceral enough to make the conflict between Israel and Palestinians look like a hissy fit, have put aside these old hatreds to work together in a democratically elected government.

No one is asking us to like the man, it is a symbolic gesture at the end of a war. If the Queen and McGuiness can countenance it, who the hell are we to whine about it.

She has shaken hands with worse, in her day.

As I recall Tony Blair brought that particular 800 years of bloodshed to an end. The one good thing he did. Shame he made up for it by starting one somewhere else.

Like some of the founders of Israel, Martin McGuinness has gone from being labeled a terrorist to leading a country. Yes, some are appalled by this. But peace is always better than hatred and killing.