And meeting McAleese.. according to the BBC that’s Martin McAleese, the non-elected husband of the Irish President, whose meetings have attracted criticism in the past, although the UTV/PA report claims that President Mary McAleese is also expected to attend, possibly – RTÉ don’t necessarily agree. ANYway, it follows the Orange Order’s meeting yesterday with the SDLP, but there a couple of points in the reports today worth highlighting.From the BBC report –
Although Mr McAleese is not an official arm of government, it is expected that Irish civil servants will be present at the meeting.
An Orange Order spokesman said the talks would focus on the interests of its members in the Irish Republic.
and further down in the report –
Although Mr McAleese does not have any official Irish Government authority, he has used his influence in the past during meetings with loyalist paramilitary leaders in Belfast.[added emphasis]
As well as Mr Saulters and Mr Nelson, he is expected to meet the institution’s grand masters in the border counties and representatives from Dublin.
It would be interesting to know who those civil servants are, and what the Department of Foreign Affairs officials, whose views were reported by Suzanne Breen, think of this meeting in comparison to their view of the meetings with those loyalist paramilitary leaders –
“To say senior Department of Foreign Affairs’ officials are worried is an under-statement,” says a government source. “This is a time-bomb waiting to go off. He’s in very dodgy territory – an unelected individual acting with the clout of his wife’s office raises constitutional issues.”
And the final quote has an Orange Order spokesman attempting to put it all into perspective –
But the organisation’s spokesman stressed that it did not signal any major new development.
“We have met with Irish Government officials in Belfast about three weeks ago to have discussions about parading issues and issues in the South.
“We met the SDLP yesterday and (Northern Ireland Secretary) Peter Hain three times in the last month.
“It may reflect a change of tactics but it’s not part of a concerted campaign.”