[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 21:29 GMT
McAleese is 'welcome on Shankill'
Mary McAleese and her husband Martin
Mary McAleese and her husband Martin during Belfast visit
Irish President Mary McAleese will be invited back to the Shankill Road in Belfast, a leading loyalist has said.

Jackie McDonald was speaking as Ms McAleese visited the city for the first time after comparing prejudice against NI Catholics with Nazi hatred of Jews.

Earlier this week, she cancelled plans to visit Edenbrooke Primary School in the Shankill area.

Mr McDonald said: "No matter what she said or whatever way it was taken, it wasn't meant that way."

He added: "She has put an awful lot of hard work into what she is doing and she will continue to do so and I will 100% support her."

Ms McAleese visited Belfast City Hospital, Hannahstown Community Centre in Belfast and St Malachy's College.

I have no doubt that in time she will be welcome on the Shankill Road
Jackie McDonald

She made the controversial comments before attending ceremonies marking 60 years since Auschwitz was liberated.

She later said she regretted her remarks and that sectarianism was a "shared problem".

The president said she was "personally absolutely devastated" by the furore, that her critics had been "absolutely right" and acknowledged she had been clumsy and had hurt people.

However, unionists said it would take time for the hurt caused by the remarks to abate and welcomed her decision to cancel the visit to the mainly loyalist Shankill.

But Mr McDonald, who visited Belfast City Hospital during Mrs McAleese's tour, said: "The Shankill Road people have been through an awful lot and are very understanding.

"I have no doubt that in time she will be welcome on the Shankill Road."

Following the remarks, Ulster Unionist councillor for the area, Chris McGimpsey, said Mrs McAleese would be welcomed back to the Shankill in the future, but the time was not right now.

Shankill community worker Baroness May Blood said the president had made the right decision in cancelling the visit.

Delivering the O'Connell Lecture in St Malachy's College, Mrs McAleese said it was a "time for courage rather than chaos, for focus rather than foment" in the Northern Ireland political situation.

It was a time "to exhibit utter fidelity to the vision at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement", she said.

"It is time to close the door on the tradition of armed struggle, to bring a dignified and principled end to the debate started by Daniel O'Connell.

"It is time to make a hope-filled, humanly decent start to the shared future that is the unarguable entitlement of the next generation."

McAleese cancels Shankill visit
21 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
McAleese urged to cancel visit
11 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
McAleese 'sorry' over Nazi remark
29 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
McAleese row over Nazi comments
28 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
Second term for Irish President
01 Oct 04 |  Northern Ireland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific