Pope may visit Ireland as soon as 2012: N.Ireland lawmaker

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI may visit Ireland as soon as 2012, Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said on Wednesday.

McGuinness made the prediction when challenged by lawmakers in the province about his failure to take part in the Scottish leg of the pope's historic visit to Britain.

The lawmaker from the republican Sinn Fein party pointed out that the four-day trip to Britain, which ended on Sunday, was a state visit. McGuinness added he would be pleased to meet the pope on a visit to Ireland.

"I also have some grounds for believing that could happen as soon as 2012," McGuinness said, without giving further details.

McGuinness and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson were criticised for failing to attend an official reception in Edinburgh where Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the head of the Roman Catholic Church to Britain.

They said they had already committed to attending an event in Belfast.

© 2010 AFP

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