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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
DUP in landmark Irish meeting
Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson travelled to Dublin
More work needs to be done to break the political impasse in Northern Ireland, DUP leader Ian Paisley has said.

Mr Paisley was speaking after a landmark meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Thursday.

He highlighted the need for the IRA to go out of business and demanded accountable structures.

It was the first time Mr Paisley, leader of the biggest unionist party in Northern Ireland, had led a political delegation to meet an Irish prime minister in Dublin.

Accompanied by his deputy, Peter Robinson, and two party officials, Mr Paisley said the meeting was "a useful exchange of views".

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Afterwards, the Taoiseach said that a "new relationship" had opened up between Dublin and the DUP.

It came as Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were in London for talks with the two governments.

It is the second time in the space of a week that they had travelled there for negotiations.

Mr Paisley told reporters after the two-hour meeting that he wished to build up a relationship between North and South.

"We are working towards a settlement for all the people of Northern Ireland and in so doing we wish to build a relationship with our neighbours that is practically based rather than politically motivated," he said.

They made it absolutely clear today that they are not trying to change to fundamentals of the Agreement
Bertie Ahern
Irish prime minister
"No one has anything to fear from such an accountable North-South relationship of equal partnerships."

Mr Paisley said the IRA must "relinquish their guns and go out of business for good".

"There is no evidence to suggest there is any IRA offer on the table at the present time, and we have indicated to Mr Ahern that more work will be needed in this area," he said.

The Taoiseach said he felt reassured by the meeting.

"They made it absolutely clear today that they are not trying to change to fundamentals of the Agreement - it was important that I heard that," he said.

Dermot Ahern (left) and Bertie Ahern at the meeting
New Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern was at the meeting
"They are looking for changes, and that was what the review was about - they fought an election a year ago that there should be a review.

"Everyone agreed to that, so it's a fair position."

Earlier this month, Mr Robinson addressed an audience of business people in Dublin.

The new Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, also attended the meeting.

The DUP leader travelled to Dublin about five years ago in his capacity as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.

At that time, he expressed concern about damage to his churches in County Monaghan.

Castle talks

Mr Paisley held political talks with Bertie Ahern at the Irish embassy in London in January.

At Leeds Castle in Kent earlier this month, the DUP held a number of meetings with Mr Ahern and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Details of the Dublin meeting emerged on Monday as Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble urged the DUP to talk directly to Sinn Fein.

Mr Trimble was speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

He said the DUP was in danger of seeming scared to take up the offer about ending IRA activity, which he said had allegedly been made by republicans at the Leeds Castle talks.

Mr Paisley was elected to the House of Commons in 1970 as a Protestant Unionist and formed the DUP in 1971.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.




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BBC NI Shane Harrison reports
"The DUP leader said there had been a useful exchange of views but indicated there had been no breakthrough"



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