Former First Minister for Northern Ireland and former DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley will formally meet President Mary McAleese for lunch today at Aras an Uachtarain (the President’s residence).
Paisley and his wife are currently on a visit to Dublin. The two visited government buildings yesterday and were shown around the Dail and the Seanad. Paisley appeared to be amused at the squabbling between MPs and said, “I could take you to the Ballymena Town Council and show you how they do it. That there was a genteel performance."
Former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern accompanied the pair on their visit.
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin then accompanied the couple on a visit to the National Museum of Ireland.
Director of the museum, Dr Patrick Wallace, showed the couple a number of "Ulster objects" before the couple visited the National Library and Glasnevin Cemetery.
In other Northern Ireland news, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin and Prime Minister Brian Cowen held separate meetings with the SDLP and Sinn Fein.
“The huge progress in Northern Ireland has been copper-fastened by the recent election results and the successful completion of the devolution of policing and justice. I welcome the clear commitment by the prime minister and the new British government to the Good Friday agreement and all that has followed," said Cowen .
“We now need to move forward to a new phase of working together, involving both governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, in the spirit of generosity and common purpose that is the foundation of the agreement.
“We have new challenges to face which we can face all the better by working together. I hope to see good progress on a range of issues of joint concern at the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council Plenary in July.”
The publication of the Saville report, which investigates the events of Bloody Sunday, was also discussed.
Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attended the meetings.
Adams called on the Government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.
“Ireland needs to send out a clear message to the Israeli government. This behavior is unacceptable. Summoning the ambassador to talks is not enough. We asked the Government that he be expelled from Ireland," said Adams.
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