16 January 2006

Foreign Minister to meet US congressman on devolution


16/01/2006 - 12:41:55

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern will tomorrow hold a meeting with influential US congressmen to discuss the prospect of power-sharing in the North during 2006.

Mr Ahern said in a New Year’s statement that he planned to step up contacts on the issue with Northern political parties, the British government and with US opinion leaders and policy makers.

The Dundalk TD will meet Republican congressmen Jim Walsh of New York and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania as well as Democrat Brian Higgins from New York.

“The plight of the undocumented Irish in the US will also be discussed,” the minister’s spokesman added.

Mr Walsh is chairman of the Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill in Washington and the author of the 1998 Walsh visa programme in support of the peace process and aimed at applicants from Northern Ireland and the six Border counties.

Tomorrow’s meeting takes place in Carlingford on the shores of Carlingford Lough which separates Co Louth and Co Down.

Mr Ahern said on January 2 that the Irish and British governments planned to end direct rule and re-establish the Assembly in 2006.

He added: “To that end the Irish Government will be stepping up contact with all political parties, with the British government and with our friends in the US in the coming weeks.

“Local, devolved government is the clear will of the people of Northern Ireland. The parties and the governments have a duty to deliver on that will.”

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