Arlene Foster - I will meet the Pope if he visits Northern Ireland

The First Minister has said she will meet Pope Francis if he makes a ground-breaking visit to Northern Ireland next year.
Pope Francis is visiting the Republic next yearPope Francis is visiting the Republic next year
Pope Francis is visiting the Republic next year

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon by the DUP press office, Arlene Foster said: “Any potential visit to Northern Ireland by the Pope is a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Were the Pope to visit Northern Ireland in his capacity as Head of State then the First Minister would meet him.”

Earlier on Monday Martin McGuinness said there was “no prospect” of the Pope not crossing the border when he visits Dublin next year.

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“I think there is no prospect whatsoever of him coming to Ireland and him not coming to the North,” he said.

Asked how why he was so sure, he replied: “Because I’m around a long time and I know how these things work.”

Pope John Paul II was unable to cross the border into Northern Ireland during the last papal visit in 1979.

Instead, amid a welter of security fears and cross-community tensions, the then pope travelled as far as Drogheda, just south of the border, for a huge audience.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed Pope Francis would travel to Ireland in August 2018 after a 23-minute meeting with him in the Vatican on Monday morning.

Dublin is hosting the two-day World Meeting of Families, a gathering of the church.