Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 10:51 UK

McCausland holds Gaeltacht talks

North south ministers
Nelson McCausland with Irish Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv

DUP Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Nelson McCausland has held his first cross-border engagement.

He attended a North-South Ministerial Council sectoral meeting in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where the predominant language is Irish.

Also present was Sinn Fein Education Minister Caitriona Ruane and two Republic of Ireland ministers.

Speaking earlier, Mr McCausland said he would not attend a Catholic church service during his tenure as minister.

"I would not attend a service in a Roman Catholic church," he said.

"That has always been my position and remains such.

"That does not mean I do not have good relationships with Roman Catholic people."

Some nationalists have criticised the minister's attitude to the Irish language and the GAA.

The Ulster-Scots enthusiast told the BBC his knowledge of the Irish language would "probably remain somewhat limited".

"I always take the view that just because somebody can say a few words in any language, it doesn't mean they've got any great knowledge of it," he said.

"I'm living at present in a cul-de-sac but it doesn't mean I'm fluent in French."

Mr McCausland is also responsible for sport, following DUP leader Peter Robinson's reshuffle last month.

His predecessor Gregory Campbell caused a row by referring to the all-Ireland football final as an "international event" after Tyrone's victory over Kerry last September.

Mr McCausland said he did not know Tyrone were the Gaelic football champions, adding that neither did he know who the Northern Ireland champions were in squash or lacrosse.



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