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11 December 1997 Edition

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Ahern visits Belfast

During his visit to Belfast Ahern went to City Hall at the invite of Lord Mayor Alban Maginnis, the first such visit by a Taoiseach. He also met Gerry Adams who brought him around his West Belfast constituency and introduced Ahern to various justice groups.

In the course of a meeting with these groups, including Cearta, Saoirse, West Belfast Economic Forum, Gaeloiliunt and the anti-Plastic Bullet Campaign.

Jim Kelly, whose brother Tony was arrested in Donegal last month, was also part of the group who met Ahern and asked him why it was that on the very day the Dublin government issued a statement asking the US administration not to extradite H Block escapees Terry Kirby, Kevin Barry Artt and Pol Brennan, GardaĆ­ were arresting his brother on foot of a British extradition warrant.

Ahern replied that ``we are only responding to a request made by the British''.

Caitriona Ruane of Cearta told AP/RN that the meeting was useful and that it was an example of how people can have an input into the talks process as they had the chance to put their points of view.

``I said to David Andrews that I thought he was wrong to retract his comments about cross border institutions under pressure from the unionists because they worry all the time about unionist feelings. What about the feelings of us nationalists?'' Ruane said.

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