Members of Lisburn City
Council welcoming President Mary McAleese
and Mr McAleese to Lagan Valley Island on
her visit this week.
THE Mayor Councillor Trevor Lunn extended the
traditional Irish greeting 'cead mile failte' (one hundred
thousand welcomes) to President Mary McAleese when she arrived
in the Lagan Valley Island Council Chamber during her visit to
Lisburn on Monday.
He told her this was really the extent of his
knowledge of Gaelic but added he was sure he spoke for everyone
present when he warmly welcomed her to the city. Mr. Lunn
recalled how Mrs. McAleese had previously visited Lisburn in the
days before it achieved city status and said it had developed
considerably since then.
"We are proud of Lisburn and its
achievements. It is growing and it is successful and we feel it
is now firmly established as Northern Ireland's second city," he
President, who is a native of Belfast, received a warm round of
applause from invited guests when she entered the council
chamber along with her husband Martin.
She was introduced to councillors
representing every party - DUP, SDLP, Ulster Unionist, Sinn Fein
and Alliance - as well as some council officers before taking
her position beside the Mayor.
Her speech to the special meeting was of hope
for the future but also acknowledged the terrible hurt suffered
by many families in Northern Ireland during the past four
She received another round of applause when she
finished speaking and then moved on to the civic centre's
rotunda to meet representatives of voluntary organisations.
Mrs. McAleese took time to speak to members
of each group before entering the Mayor's parlour to face
questions from journalists about the significance of her visit
to Lisburn and the possibility of the Queen visiting Dublin.
She left the Civic Centre after lunch when
she took time out of her schedule to visit her uncle and aunt
Pat and Cathy Dorrian who live in the city.
Changes in Northern Ireland 'a powerful message of hope'
Mary McAleese President of Ireland and
Martin McAleese meet Rebecca Leonard of the Fusion
Theatre at Lagan Valley Island. US2507-108A0
President Mary McAleese
meets members of the Atlas centre at Lagan Valley Island
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese's speech at Lagan
Valley Island on Monday was her first to a unionist dominated
She told councillors and invited guests it
had often seemed as if such a time would never arrive during the
nineears since the signing of the Belfast Agreement. However,
she now felt a relationship of 'good neighbourliness and
practical partnership' was being nurtured between the two parts
She also felt the 'best ever rapport' now
existed in every sphere between Ireland and Britain.
"Perseverance, courage and leadership have helped this
generation to straighten out the skewed relationships that
history bequeathed us," she added.
Mrs. McAleese spoke of the 'great
reassurance' provided by recent meetings between the Taoiseách
Bertie Ahern and First Minister Ian Paisley that a shared and
respectful future was not only possible but was already
She also felt recent events in Northern
Ireland sent a 'powerful message of hope' to other societies
still mired in conflict and wondering if there was going to be
any way out.
"We can at least tell them that patience and persistence do
pay off, that courage and a generous spirit of compromise bring
out the best in people that old enemies can indeed become good
Possibility of royal visit to Republic
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese said during her visit
to Lagan Valley Island conditions were 'about as good as they
had ever been' for a Royal visit to the Republic.
A first visit by the Queen could come sooner
than people think because of the political breakthrough in
Northern Ireland, she added.
The strides away from conflict and
restoration of a power sharing devolved government at Stormont
were 'without a shadow of a doubt' bringing forward the day when
a visit could take place.
"One of the things we all have in mind would
be to ensure the circumstances are absolutely right," she said.
"They are probably now getting to the point
where they are as close to right as they have ever been.
"One of the things we take great pride and
great encouragement from is what is happening here in Northern
Ireland - that's giving us great comfort."
Martin McAleese, President
Mary McAleese and Lisburn Mayor Trevor Lunn
meet School Children at Lagan Valley Island.
US2507-101AO Picture By; Aidan O'Reilly