Paisley marks visit to Boyne battlefield with warm words and reconciliation

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The new Ireland of good neighbourliness continued to assert itself over the old Ireland of historical dispute when the Rev Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's new First Minister, ventured south of the border to one of the most hallowed sites of Protestantism and Unionism. In the latest in a remarkable series of highly symbolic events, Mr Paisley visited the river Boyne, where in 1690 a Protestant king defeated a Catholic monarch in a major military clash. Each year in Northern Ireland, tens of thousands of Protestants still take to the streets to celebrate the victory of King William III over James II, in what many Catholics resent as provocative triumphalism. But yesterday Mr Paisley introduced an entirely new tone by accompanying the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, on a visit which stressed mutual respect and reconciliation rather than the enduring defeat of one tradition by another.

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