Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 06:54 UK

Queen visit 'may depend on IRA'

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley said he hopes the Queen will visit

An historic visit by the Queen to the Republic of Ireland could depend on the IRA disbanding its Army Council, Ian Paisley has said.

The outgoing first minister said he hoped there would be a visit by the monarch to the Republic soon.

"I would suspect you will not get the Queen coming until we have confirmation that the IRA Army Council is finished, done away with," he said.

"After all, they were the people who murdered her uncle (Lord Mountbatten)."

There has been speculation over the past five years that the Republic could host its first visit by a British monarch since the partition of Ireland in 1921.

With the bedding down of power sharing at Stormont last year and the warmer relationship between unionists and the Irish Government, that speculation has intensified.

However there was controversy in March when after a meeting with the Queen in Belfast, Irish President Mary McAleese appeared to link a visit to the NI Assembly assuming responsibility for policing and the courts.

Unionists, who insist the political climate is not yet right for the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont, criticised Mrs McAleese.

Mr Paisley said her comments were unfortunate.

"I do not know why the president made those comments," he said.

"I would not say she did it out of spite. It was a bad statement, an unfortunate statement to make."

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