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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Holyrood date for Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern: Irish premier was forced to cancel visit
Irish Premier Bertie Ahern is set to address members of the Scottish Parliament when he pays an official visit to Scotland in June.

Ireland's consul general in Edinburgh, Dan Mulhall, said details of the visit are still being finalised but that things were falling into place.

Mr Mulhall said: "Final arrangements are not yet in place, but we are working towards a visit in June and we hope to make an announcement fairly soon."

The visit follows a debacle in February, when the Taoiseach called off a private visit to Scotland to unveil a monument to victims of the Irish famine at Carfin in Lanarkshire.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said the Taoiseach would be made welcome whenever he decided to visit.

Memorial at Carfin in Lanarkshire
Carfin memorial: At the centre of the row
Mr Ahern's previous trip was cancelled after Frank Roy - a Lanarkshire MP and former parliamentary private secretary to Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell - said the timing of the visit, immediately after a Rangers-Celtic match, could trigger sectarian violence.

Mr Roy had written to the Taoiseach warning that the visit was ill advised.

He wrote: "One of the worst nights in my constituency for policing is the night of any Old Firm game, and quite frankly we don't need this as well."

Mr Roy consistently defended his actions during the furious row which erupted over the affair.

Mr Mulhall said the June visit is at the invitation of the Scottish Executive and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Hopes for visit

It is understood Mr Ahern will address MSPs in the parliament on 20 June.

A parliament spokesman said: "As already indicated, we hope that when Mr Ahern next comes to Scotland, he will be able to visit the parliament and address members. We will be delighted to receive him."

In February, former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to issue an apology to Mr Ahern over the affair.

He said it would be the only way to close the matter and ensure the relationship between Scotland and Ireland was not damaged.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Scotland
Blair urged to issue Ahern apology
12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Opposition seek Ahern visit answers
11 Feb 01 | Scotland
Ahern row MP quits as aide
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Fury at MP's Taoiseach warning
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Dismay at Ahern cancellation
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