No Pope For Arlene

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The leader of the DUP Arlene Foster has said she won’t be attending the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland next week.

She said she appreciates the invitation, which she received from the Irish Government to an address by Pope Francis in Dublin Castle on Saturday. However, she added that regretfully she will be away with her family and cannot attend.

The Former First Minister said she particularly acknowledges the significance of this event for many Roman Catholics in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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The DUP, founded by the late fundamentalist preacher Ian Paisley, once declared Pope John Paul II the anti-christ when he addressed the European Parliament in 1988.

It is understood no one else from the party will be attending. Mrs Foster has made attempts at bridge-building in recent months, attending an Ulster GAA Final and speaking at an LGBT event.

The BBC has reported Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill will attend both the address and the papal mass in Phoenix Park.