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Last Updated: Monday, 16 July 2007, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
PM Brown in first Stormont visit
The British-Irish council is meeting at Stormont
The British-Irish council is meeting at Stormont
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made his first visit to Northern Ireland since taking over from Tony Blair.

He met Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and the leaders of the devolved UK governments at a summit of the British-Irish Council at Stormont.

Before the meeting, Mr Brown said the government was providing a fair economic package for Northern Ireland.

"The financial package is very big indeed - 51.5bn over the next few years," Mr Brown said.

"It is to make possible the current expenditures of the Northern Ireland Assembly and to make possible a big programme of investment in the future."

Bertie Ahern, Martrin McGuinness, Ian Paisley and Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown said he was pleased devolution was back

After meeting Mr Brown, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley said the executive would continue to work to get the right package.

"That is a task that we have to take on, both myself, the deputy (Martin McGuinness) and the other members of the government here," Mr Paisley said.

Mr McGuinness said: "All of this is a work in progress, but the prime minister was at pains to say that he is here to help and that he recognises the economy is of critical importance."

Devolution

Earlier on Monday, Mr Brown said he was pleased devolution had returned to Northern Ireland.

Mr Ahern said he looked forward to working with Mr Brown on the European agenda and co-operating with the UK on security and terrorism matters.

Mr Brown called for greater cooperation across Europe in sharing information on suspected terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Ballycastle to Campbelltown Ferry could be restored following discussions at Monday's meeting.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond 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.

On Tuesday, the North-South Ministerial Council meets in Armagh.

Ministers will focus on co-operation over a new roads programme and on reopening another section of the Ulster Canal linking Upper Lough Erne with the Shannon.

The establishment of a North-South Parliamentary Forum is also on the agenda.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Leaders speaking at the Stormont summit



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