Paisley to join Ahern in Boyne visit
Paisley to join Ahern in Boyne visit

DUP leader Ian Paisley and the 26-County Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, will visit the site of the Battle of the Boyne together next month, it has been confirmed.

The pair will make the trip to the most celebrated battle triumph in Protestant folklore in the days after Mr Paisley takes up his new post as the Six-County First Minister.

On May 8th, ministers in the new powersharing executive are to take their pledges of office, in an event set to be a showcase for the peace process to the international community.

It is understood that Senator Edward Kennedy, former talks chairman George Mitchell, former president Bill Clinton, Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice have all been invited to attend.

The planned joint visit to the Boyne battlefield on May 11th three days later is intended to reinforce the new hopes of cross-border peace and harmony.

“I am delighted that Dr Paisley has accepted my invitation to visit the site of the Battle of the Boyne,” Mr Ahern said.

“I look forward to welcoming him and reviewing with him the work that we are planning for this important place in our shared history.”

The battlefield marks the spot where the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the army of Catholic King James, resulting in the deaths of some two thousand Irishmen.

The occasion is still celebrated with hundreds off triumphalist marches by the Orange Order, named after King William and still devoted to advancing the cause of Protestantism.

Dublin officials have denied that they are appeasing Mr Paisley, long criticised for his hardline sectarian views but now officially elevated to the status of peace-maker following his agreement to share power with Sinn Féin.

“I believe that this site can become a valuable and welcome expression of the new relationship that we are building on this island, a relationship that is respectful of its past and all its traditions,” added Mr Ahern.

Mr Paisley has already indicated he will present a 300-year-old musket rifle used in the 1690 battle to the site`s new visitor centre.


Meanwhile, Mr Ahern has pledged that he will build a giant monument dedicated to the peace process in the border region if it is returned to power.

Mr Ahern said that he would commission a major international competition to design and construct a “landmark” monument.

“This monument will stand as a symbol of the achievements of all communities and individuals who have worked so hard to deliver peace these past decades,” he added.

“It will send out a clear message to the coming generations - that the peace we have built is to be cherished. It should never be taken for granted.”

Mr Ahern said he was allocating 5 million Euros to the project, which would allow designers to propose projects on the same scale as the Spire in Dublin.

Speaking at the annual Fianna Fail Arbour Hill commemoration, in Dublin, Mr Ahern said that the book of Irish history was stained with blood, pain and division.

“We know that there continues to be dangerous dissident groups who simply have not got the message, or who have chosen to ignore the message, that their ways have no place in the Ireland of today,” he added.

“At this extraordinary moment of peace and reconciliation, I appeal to them to extend their hands towards peace.”

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