Outgoing Irish President Mary McAleese met the father and widower of murder victim Michaela McAreavey at a reception at Hillsborough Castle last night.
Mrs McAleese stopped to talk to Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte and his son-in-law John McAreavey as she mingled with guests at the reception and dinner hosted by Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
Michaela was murdered on the tropical island of Mauritius as she and her new husband enjoyed their honeymoon.
Mrs McAleese also used the occasion to thank people who had supported her during her two terms as Irish President.
She said the fact that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was hosting a farewell event for the President of Ireland was a testimony to the changed times and much-improved prospects for a stable, long-term peace. Mrs McAleese also referred again to the visit to the Republic by the Queen as another sign of growing peace and a new relationship between the two countries.
She said: “I believe we are flying now — straight and sure, surprising ourselves, surprising the world. And now we know where we are going — the means of transport are equality, parity of esteem, mutual respect, dialogue and partnership. The destination is peace.”