30/01/2004

'Constructive' meeting between Paisley and Ahern

The historic London meeting between the Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has been described as "constructive".

The first political meeting between the staunchly anti-Agreement DUP leader and the Taoiseach was said to be "businesslike" though as expected full consensus was not forthcoming.

Speaking after the meeting, Rev Paisley said Mr Ahern knew he was "facing old-fashioned traditional unionists". He said: "I think now we can face up to the big issue, and the big issue is to get the guns out of the hands of terrorists".

The five-strong DUP delegation of Westminster MPs met the Irish Ministerial delegation of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowan and Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell in the Irish Embassy in London. It is the only high-level political meeting to take place between the DUP and the Irish government.

The DUP position has been implacably opposition to what the party view as Irish interference in the affairs of Northern Ireland, which they consider as solely British. However, changes in the Irish constitution, which were part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, removed territorial claims with respect to Northern Ireland.

Following the meeting Mr Ahern said that the DUP had what he described as "problems" but that they had been "clear about their attitude that they want to do business". He said that the meeting was "a good start".

Election gains by the two political extremes in the province have left the Democratic Unionist Party as now the largest Unionist party and Sinn Féin as the largest Nationalist party.

This week the main political parties in Northern Ireland have been setting out their views on the review process, which is to begin next Tuesday under the auspices of the British and Irish governments.

(SP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

30 November 2021
Consultation Launches On Proposals For 'Charlotte's Law'
Justice Minister Naomi Long has launched a public consultation on proposals for 'Charlotte's Law'. The consultation follows a review of current law in relation to disclosure of information on the locations of victims' remains by those convicted of their killing.
29 November 2021
Justice Minister Launches Campaign Against Illegal Money Lenders
Paramilitary gangs must not be allowed to use illegal money lending to target the most vulnerable members of our communities, Justice Minister Naomi Long has said.
20 January 2022
£25m Backdated Pay Award Announced For Healthcare Workers
Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a further in-year pay award for healthcare workers totalling £25 million. The Minister said that the award was being made utilising funding already within the Department for Health budget. The funding will be used for: • An additional 1.5% non-consolidated pay uplift for AfC Bands 1-3.
20 January 2022
Other News In Brief
Searches Continue After Firearms Uncovered In East Belfast A police operation is continuing in East Belfast following the discovery of suspected firearms. Following the report of a suspicious object in the Glenside area, a number of firearms were uncovered. Officers called in Ammunition Technical Officers to examine the scene.
14 December 2021
Education Minister Announces Immediate Dissolution Of Teaching Council
Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced a decision to dissolve the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI). An independent Effectiveness Review of the Council found "systemic failures and a breakdown of working relationships".