02:16 - Source: CNN
Prince Charles meets Sinn Fein leader in historic first

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NEW: Prince Charles, Gerry Adams shake hands in the Irish city of Galway

It's the first meeting of the Sinn Fein leader and a member of the British royal family

Adams had been tied to the IRA before helping broker peace in Northern Ireland

CNN  — 

Gerry Adams met with Prince Charles on Tuesday in Ireland, the first public meeting between the Sinn Fein leader and a member of the British royal family.

The two men shook hands Tuesday in Galway, a city on Ireland’s west coast.

The encounter took place on the first day of Charles’ four-day tour of the Republic of Ireland with his wife, Camilla.

During the trip, Charles will also visit the village of Mullaghmore, where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb during a boating trip in 1979.

At the time, Adams condoned the attack, saying, “What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people.”

Before he helped broker peace in Northern Ireland, Adams had long been associated with the IRA – once considered the armed wing of Sinn Fein. He denies that he was a member of the IRA. Today, Sinn Fein is Ireland’s second-largest opposition party.

The peace in Northern Ireland came after decades of bloody conflict between Protestant loyalists who wanted to stay part of the United Kingdom and Catholic nationalists who wanted to see the North united with the Republic of Ireland.

Adams’ meeting with Charles is being viewed as another milestone in the fragile peace process.

“This was agreed to promote the process of resolving past injustices and promoting reconciliation and healing,” Sinn Fein Chairman Declan Kearney said on his party’s website.

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Journalist Peter Taggart and CNN’s Greg Botelho contributed to this report.