In a statement this evening Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:
“When the State visit of Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins to Britain was announced, I welcomed it in the context of building new relationships within Ireland and between these islands.
“The President’s visit must be viewed against the backdrop of the huge political changes that have taken place in recent years — changes in which Irish republicans have played a leadership role.
“Sinn Féin seeks a new and positive relationship between Ireland – all of Ireland – and Britain based on equality and mutual respect for the first time in our troubled history.
“We also seek an agreed, united Ireland which accommodates those who define themselves as British.
“It is within this context that I can confirm that deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will accept an invitation to attend all events as part of the State visit.
“This decision by a confident republican leadership is in keeping with the transition that is ongoing within the island of Ireland and between Ireland, including the North, and Britain.
“There is now a peaceful and democratic way to end the Union and Partition. This is a work in progress and Sinn Féin accepts that there is an onus on us to persuade our unionist neighbours that their interests are best served in a new, agreed Ireland.
“While Martin McGuinness’s involvement in President Higgins’s State visit may not be welcome by opponents of change, it is yet another example of Sinn Féin’s commitment to an inclusive future based on tolerance and equality.
“This decision may cause difficulty for some Irish republicans in light of ongoing difficulties in the north but, I would appeal to them to view this positively in the context of republican and democratic objectives and the interests of unity and peace on this island.
“The real significance and value of President Higgins's visit, will only be realised if peace and the political processes are built upon by both Governments. That means implementing all outstanding elements of the Good Friday and other Agreements.” CRÍOCH/END