First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland hold official meeting in Edinburgh

The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley, has met with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond during his visit to Scotland in February 2008.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness (left), Northern Irish First Minister, Ian Paisley (centre), and First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond (right)The First Minister of Northern Ireland travelled to Scotland on February 20th, returning the visit that the Scottish First Minister paid to Stormont in 2007.

The Northern Irish delegation visited the Scottish Parliament Building, an anti-sectarianism project in Edinburgh, and gave a joint press conference with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond at the Edinburgh Castle.

At their first bi-lateral meeting in Scotland, the Northern Irish and Scottish administrations agreed to strengthen the transport and energy links between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Speaking after the meeting, Northern Ireland's First Minister, Ian Paisley, said: "Today's meeting has been very productive providing us with the opportunity to learn from Scotland's experiences of devolution."

"The ties of culture, commerce and family that have long linked our two countries makes this as much a meeting of friends as of administrations."

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness added that "Today's meeting was very useful in building on the growing links between our two administrations."

The First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond said: "We need to establish strong links if we are to fully harvest our resources. We need the transport links to realise our economic and tourism potential. We need the energy links to manage our offshore renewables potential. And we need the government links to enable us to work together effectively."

"Significant progress has already been made towards appointing a consultant to carry out an appraisal of the proposal to reinstate the Campbeltown-Ballycastle ferry service. That appraisal will be completed by the summer and we will be eagerly studying its assessment, which will allow us to decide the best way forward", he said.

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