NI ministers to meet Scottish First Minister

Scotland’s First Minister will meet his Northern Ireland counterparts in Belfast today.

Alex Salmond will attend the opening of a new ferry terminal at the Port of Belfast after arriving by boat from Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway.

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) leader will be greeted by outgoing Northern Ireland First Minister the Rev Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

No substantive talks are planned.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s Mr Paisley is to step down as First Minister tomorrow after a little over a year at the helm of the power-sharing government.

Last year he praised Mr Salmond for turning around politics in Scotland, despite his nationalism.

The Scot has worked to strengthen links between the North and Scotland and praised the devolved administration at Stormont.

A Ballycastle to Campbelltown ferry could be restored following discussions in Belfast last year at a meeting of the British/Irish Council.

The Scottish leader said there was strong political commitment to the project.

The Scots have proposed that the route should be extended to Troon as this would increase the number of passengers and strengthen the business case for the service.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said the First Minister would pay tribute to Dr Paisley’s achievements.

“The First Minister reflected (at yesterday’s meeting of the Scottish cabinet) on Dr Paisley’s remarkable political career which culminated in the power-sharing agreeemnt and the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland,” said the spokesman.

“The First Minister and the Scottish Government have developed a good working relationship with Dr Paisley and Martin McGuinness, and with the devolved administration in Northern Ireland as well.”


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