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.

20 August 2019
Police Issue Insurance Guidance For Motorists
Police have issued guidance over the validity of car insurance policies. The warning comes amid reports of young people driving without insurance. Confusion seems to have developed around the matter, with many young people believing they are insured to drive vehicles of which they are not the owner.
14 August 2019
Unionist Leaders Must Condemn 'Goading Of Victims'- SF
Sinn Fein has called on unionist leaders to condemn the appearance of emblems supporting Soldier F and the Parachute Regiment in a parade in L'Derry on Saturday.
24 April 2006
DUP attend British-Irish Inter Parliamentary talks
The DUP are to attend a meeting of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body today in Killarney, after boycotting the body for the past 16-years.
14 December 2004
Paisley accepts Ahern apology but impasse continues
It is still unclear whether the DUP will meet with Irish officials on Wednesday despite Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's apology to DUP leader Ian Paisley concerning photographic evidence of IRA decomissioning.
21 October 2008
Parade Plan Heightens Tension As Executive Fails To Meet
With the NI Executive paralysed by a failure to meet for four full months, as Sinn Féin protests about a lack of progress on the devolution of policing and justice powers, the party has defended its decision to organise a contentious march.