Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall will begin their four-day visit to Ireland today, with a meeting with Sínn Féin president Gerry Adams.
The Prince of Wales will meet with the Sínn Féin leader at a visit to National University of Ireland, Galway, where a celebration of Irish culture will take place.
It will be the first meeting between a member of the British Royal Family and the Sínn Féin leadership in the Republic of Ireland. Three years ago Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland, and met with former IRA commander and Sínn Feín member Martin McGuinness, but in Belfast.
The royal visit has attracted attention in both Ireland and Britain. Some Irish republicans have voiced their opposition to the meeting, because Prince Charles is Colonel-in-Chief of the parachute regiment which killed 14 civilians in Londonderry in 1972. The event became known as Bloody Sunday, and is considered as one of the worst acts of violence carried out by the British forces in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
However, Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney supports the meeting. He said: “This was agreed to promote the process of resolving past injustices and promoting reconciliation and healing.”
Prince Charles and Camilla will also visit the site of the murder of Lord Mountbatten, Charles’ great uncle. The British statesman was killed by an IRA bomb that had been planted on his boat. It was detonated while he was fishing off the coast of Donegal in 1979.
The royal visit is hoped to further strengthen the relationship between Ireland and Britain.
Charles and Camilla will be the guests of President Michael Higgins and his wife this evening. Their Irish trip will also include visits to numerous historical and cultural sites such as the Burren and the Irish Marine Institute.