Irish Politicians Depart For Kennedy Funeral

Irish leaders are on route this weekend to the USA.

A delegation, led by Taoiseach Brian Cowen and NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, will tomorrow (Saturday) pay their final respects to Senator Edward Kennedy, who died earlier this week.

Senator Kennedy, whose funeral will take place in Boston, will be laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, where his brothers, former US President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy are also buried.

Former SDLP Leader John Hume and his successor Mark Durkan are also expected to attend the ceremony.

Books of condolence have been opened across the world in honour of the 77-year-old senator, who lost his battle with a brain tumour on Wednesday.

The US Consulate at Danesfort House in Belfast has also opened a book, offering Northern Ireland residents the opportunity to mark the long-serving statesman's death.

The public can sign it between 2pm and 4pm today (Friday).

The consulate has also provided an email address to forward condolences to the late senator's family belfast-condolences@state.gov

Hundreds queued in the Irish capital yesterday to write their tributes to the Massachusetts senator.

Irish Ambassador Daniel Rooney, speaking from Dublin, said Mr Kennedy had played a crucial role in the NI peace process.

"He was instrumental in advancing the historic ceasefire in 1994, and he contributed to the talks that brought peace," said Mr Rooney.

"In the Senate, he introduced resolutions condemning all violence in Northern Ireland and expressing support for the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 as the blueprint for lasting peace."

DUP First Minister Peter Robinson said the late senator was "a politician of world renown whose influence was felt across the world".


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