Paisley to meet Irish premier

Paisley is due to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern

DUP leader Ian Paisley is to travel to the Republic of Ireland to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The meeting is due to take place in Dublin on Thursday.

It is the first time that Dr Paisley will lead a political delegation to meet an Irish prime minister in Dublin.

The DUP leader travelled to Dublin about five years ago in his capacity as Free Presbyterian leader.

At that time, he expressed concern about damage to his churches in County Monaghan.

Dr Paisley held political talks with Mr Ahern at the Irish embassy in London in January.

At Leeds Castle, Kent, earlier this month, the DUP held a number of meetings with Mr Ahern and Tony Blair.

Details of the Dublin meeting emerged as Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble urged the DUP to talk directly to Sinn Fein.

David Trimble was speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton on Monday.

He said the DUP were in danger of seeming scared to take up the offer about ending IRA activity, which he said had allegedly been made by republicans at the Leeds Castle talks.

Mr Paisley was elected to the Commons in 1970 as a Protestant Unionist and formed the DUP in 1971.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

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