Pope Hails Power Sharing in Northern Ireland

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI greeted the Irish and British ambassadors to the Holy See to mark the beginning of the new government in Northern Ireland.

Prior to his departure for Brazil, the Pope invited Philip McDonagh of Ireland and Francis Campbell of the United Kingdom to meet with him to commemorate Tuesday's re-establishment of a power-sharing local authority.

Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionists, the dominant party among Northern Ireland's Protestants, and Martin McGuinness, of the republican and mainly Catholic Sinn Fein party, were sworn in as leader and deputy leader, respectively, of the Northern Ireland executive government.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Tuesday: "Here, in Belfast, on this day, we mark the historic beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland. An era founded on peace and partnership; an era of new politics and new realities."

Ahern added, "Northern Ireland is now a place of peace and promise."