It is said that it originated as a way of showing that you were unarmed.
English barristers do not shake hands because as ‘ learned friends’ that have no need of this display.
There have been many famous handshakes. Hitler/Chamberlin, Nixon/Mao, Sadat/Begin, Rabin/Arafat, McGuinness/ Elizabeth Saxe- Coburg-Gotha.
These have been ground breaking moments.
So why did George Hamilton , stolid, NIO Gopher, go to West Belfast and shake the hand of McGuinness, terrorist, gunman, murderer of policemen and others, member of PIRA Northern Command, and sometime member of PIRA Army Council?
What was the hidden agenda? What was the purpose? McGuinness confessed to having been momentarily in PIRA, like Clinton confessed to smoking dope but not inhaling.
Is there a clue in what was said?
Hamilton said ” there were serious problems with policing in the past”.
McGuinness said “tonight is another act of reconciliation”.
Leaving aside the Relate-like language of these two almost former lovers [you don’t bring me flowers anymore], on whose behalf does Hamilton speak? Certainly not those officers killed, maimed or still living daily with their scars.
Certainly not on behalf of my parents, whom he refers to as a “legacy issue”.
Perhaps on behalf of Bryan Harold Harris or Anne Harris? The brother and mother of his deputy, whose father was killed by PIRA on 8 October 1989, on the orders of McGuinness?
Will he look his deputy in the eye on Monday morning?
Is the message from the PSNI that there will be no more arrests of senior Provos? Their head of intelligence Bobby Storey shared the platform. Hamilton had no issue with that.
And what of the other branches of government? Who knows what messages are being whispered into the ears of the judges in the back corridor?
The Secretary of State may not be able to fix welfare reform but there is a lot more on the republican agenda that we don’t see and which can be attended to.
Not all landmark handshakes survive. Hitler, Arafat…maybe we can add Marty and Liz to that list?
But wait! the most famous modern handshake of all! Blair and Gadafy! I’m coming for you soon Tony!