Three men were arrested during a republican protest objecting to Ian Paisley’s attendance at a civic event in Cobh, County Cork.
The protest, organised by Republican Sinn Féin and attended by about a hundred people, followed an invitation to Ian Paisley to attend a civic reception by the local Chamber of Commerce.
Although the invitation was strongly opposed by the local community, Garda police, including canine and Special Branch units, secured the area amid a peaceful protest.
Paisley paid tribute to organisers for the invitation and called for more travel and trade between North and South to benefit the people of both parts of the island.
“Overwhelming - that’s how I feel at the welcome we’ve received here during our visit and the more people from the North who travel south and the more from the South who go north the better we can take care of all our interests,” he said.
Later, Paisley visited Cork City Hall, where he controversially signed the visitors book in the Mayor’s office beneath portraits of Sinn Féin Mayors, Tomas Mac Curtain, who was murdered by members of the RIC in March 1920, and his successor, Terence MacSwiney who died on hunger strike in October 1920.
He revealed plans to write his memoirs when he steps down as First Minister in May but may have them published posthumously.
“I’m going to write a book and put on record the things that need to be put on record. Maybe I won’t have it published until after I’m away from this world because I might cause such a furore, I’d be better in heaven,” he said.
ROBINSON, DODDS ELECTED
Paisley steps down as party leader next month after the special US investment conference which is being held in Belfast.
The ruling executive of his Democratic Unionist Party this week unanimously elected Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds as leader and deputy leader designate. They were elected when the ruling body backed a single motion of nomination.
“There are greater days ahead for our party,” said Paisley. “I believe we are going to see great things.”
“Work has to be done and will be done and we will reap the solid harvest of a good sowing.”
Mr Robinson, currently finance minister, paid tribute to his party leader.
“Anybody who thought the party would now change its policy because it was changing its leader will be disappointed,” he said.
“The DUP is going to stick to its policy. Why? Because the policies we have have been mandated by the Northern Ireland community.” He looked to better days ahead for his party and for the country, he said.
Looking to next month’s US investment conference, Mr Robinson was asked for his reaction to reports that investment from New York’s pension funds would be subject to the MacBride Principles on fair employment.
“I think the MacBride Principles are something from a past generation,” he said.
“I don’t think that anyone looking at Northern Ireland will see anything wrong with the employment patterns.”
Meanwhile, political friends and foes paid tribute to 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday on his last day in the Dail as Taoiseach. He was given a standing ovation by members of the Dublin parliament on Wednesday at the conclusion of the special debate to mark the occasion.
Ahern’s last act of office will be to officially open the Battle of the Boyne site in County Meath with Mr Paisley on May 6th.
In related news, little-known Senator Ciaran Cannon has been elected leader of the Progressive Democrats party, following Michael McDowell’s departure from politics and replacing temporary leader Mary Harney.
Although the party holds only two seats in the Dail following a disastrous election last year, it remains part of the Dublin coalition government and will seek to rebuild for next year’s local elections, which are critical to the party’s survival.