Mary Lou McDonald holds private meeting with Prince Charles in Cork

The Sinn Féin leader said it was "an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship"

Mary Lou McDonald holds private meeting with Prince Charles in Cork

This composite images shows Britain's Prince Charles (left) and Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald | Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images/@sinnfeinireland on Twitter

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has held a private meeting with Britain's Prince Charles during his visit to Cork.

The meeting, which lasted over 30 minutes, was also attended by the party's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill.

Speaking following the meeting on Thursday, Ms McDonald said: "Today's meeting was an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship, not just to Prince Charles or to the British royal family - whose efforts to promote reconciliation I want to acknowledge - but to those on our island who identify as British, and who are British.

"As I have stated previously, the Ireland I want to be part of building is a county where one can comfortably be Irish or British, both or neither.

"All identities and traditions on our island must be respected. This is about building on the courageous work of Martin McGuinness and others.

The late Martin McGuinness famously shook the hand of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 2012 | Image:

"The conflict in our country caused great suffering and pain. The past has fostered distrust on all sides of political discourse across the island.

"That is the reality, but in extending the hand of friendship we can help to build a better future for all. We are on an ongoing journey of building trust.

"The past may inform who we are, but it cannot define where we are going."

She added: "Acknowledging the loss of victims and families on the basis of equality and respect for each other is essential.

"Reconciling difference, dealing with the past, challenging sectarian attitudes and working together to find common ground are how we move our society forward."

She said herself and Ms O'Neill "are committed to playing our parts in that work and I want to extend the hand of friendship to our Unionist brothers and sisters this evening."

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are on a two day visit to Cork and Kerry.