Irish Protestant and Catholic church leaders hold historic meeting

 Mr Paisley, moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, met Archbishop of Armagh Dr Sean Brady at Stormont yesterday. Mr Paisley said they had "a very good and useful exchange of views across a range of issues". Both men shook hands. The DUP leader said his party looked forward "to further discussions with Archbishop Brady and his colleagues in the coming months". The meeting came just two days before multi-party talks in St Andrews, Scotland, aimed at brokering a deal on devolution and policing. Mr Paisley said: "Our topics of discussion were social, economic and political. I welcome the opportunity that this meeting has provided. We have had a very good and useful exchange of views across a range of issues. It is in the interests of everyone to develop the foundations for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland." Speaking after the meeting Archbishop Brady said: "I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet Dr Paisley and other members of the Democratic Unionist Party today as part of their ongoing engagement with Church and civic leaders. It was a very helpful and constructive meeting. We had the opportunity to exchange views on issues such as addressing poverty and social need, ensuring high standards and adequate funding for education, the right to faith based schools and how to provide greater support for the family based on marriage as the keystone of a secure society. We also discussed the benefits that would derive to all parts of the community from a stable and devolved administration in Northern Ireland. This included the need to develop support for the administration of justice and of law and order in every section of the community as a fundamental principle of democracy. Today's meeting confirmed to me that all of us have a part to play in creating a more stable and prosperous future for Northern Ireland. I firmly believe that such a future is within our grasp if each one of us can find the courage to take account of the needs of the other and not just those of our own community. I think that real peace will come only when we focus on the common good of all of our society and not just on sectional interest. Northern Ireland is fast becoming a more diverse and dynamic society. I hope and pray that coming months will also see it become a more democratically accountable and stable society. Perhaps then we will be able to unlock the great potential that undoubtedly exists within the people of Northern Ireland and set this place free to become one of the safest, most welcoming and most prosperous parts of the world. I want to thank Dr Paisley and the DUP for making today's meeting possible. I look forward to further meetings with him and his colleagues. It is in such dialogue and engagement that we can dispel fears, create understanding and build trust. A lot of progress has been made. Hope are now rising for further progress. I pray that these hopes may not be dashed but realised abundantly.' The DUP delegation included deputy leader Peter Robinson and MPs Nigel Dodds and Gregory Campbell. The Archbishop's delegation included Bishop Francis Lagan, the auxiliary bishop of Derry, and Father Timothy Bartlett, secretary to the Northern Bishops. Source: Irish Catholic Media Office/BBC

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