Saturday 18 August 2018

DUP's Foster to get invite to Pope's Mass at Phoenix Park

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photo: PA
DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photo: PA
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

DUP leader Arlene Foster will be invited to attend the Pope's Mass in the Phoenix Park.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's office has confirmed invites will be issued to the leaders of all the political parties in the North.

It comes as Ms Foster has made a number of gestures of openness in recent months.

She attended the GAA's Ulster football final in Monaghan and in June attended an LGBT event.

It's understood invites are yet to be issued for the World Meeting of Families in the park, which will take place on August 26.

Willing

Ms Foster has previously indicated she would be willing to meet the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics.

In November 2016, when she was first minister, she said she would meet with the Pontiff if he visited Northern Ireland.

"Were the Pope to visit Northern Ireland in his capacity as head of state, then the first minister would meet him," Ms Foster's spokesman at the time said.

While Pope Francis's itinerary does not include a visit to the North, the invitation will nonetheless offer Ms Foster another opportunity to make a gesture of reconciliation.

The founder of her party, the late Ian Paisley Snr, infamously called Pope John Paul II "the anti-Christ" as he was giving a speech to the European Parliament in 1988.

He was escorted out of the chamber by security.

Irish Independent

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