Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley will hold crucial talks on Northern Ireland with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Friday, it emerged tonight.
It will be the first time a DUP delegation has held formal discussions with Mr Ahern since the IRA announced an end to its 36-year armed campaign in late July and completed decommissioning of its arms in September.
“The meeting with the DUP is the latest in a round of discussions between Mr Ahern and Northern Ireland political parties,” said an Irish Government spokesperson.
“The agenda will centre around the need to find consensus on Mr Ahern’s objective to commence Northern Ireland power-sharing talks in the Spring.”
Mr Paisley visited Dublin for the first-ever political meeting with an Irish head of government in October 2004.
Two months later, a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin collapsed because the DUP insisted on visual evidence of decommissioning.