Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Lost Lord fails to turn up on Tyne

Unionist peer mixes up Newcastles

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis helped make history today — but slipped up on the geographic front.

The former MP and other unionists were attending the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body conference as full delegates for the first time, alongside 25 TDs from Dail Eireann and British parliamentarians in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

But Lord Maginnis today admitted he would be late to the English venue after thinking the ground-breaking event was in Newcastle, Co Down.

He told the Telegraph he realised his mistake when he could find no Marriott Hotel at the Northern Ireland resort.

“I decided to check just before I left the house and, by then, it would have been too late to travel,” he said. “I do expect to get some hassle about it.

“But I think some are seeing my error as indicating and underpinning my reluctance as a unionist to attend,” he quipped, while finally en route to the correct destination.

And he revealed he will also have to leave the gathering early, to take care of some Home Office business tomorrow.

Former Secretary of State Peter Hain regaled delegates with the senior UUP man’s mistake at the opening dinner last night, also attended by party colleague David McClarty and the DUP’s Jim Wells.

“When he finally gets here Lord Maginnis can expect heaps of derision. It is such a funny thing to have happened,” the South Down DUP man said.

Mr Wells said his party last attended the body, in Killarney more than two years ago, only as a delegation but it has since adopted new structures, and taken on a more “British Isles based” approach.

“When I arrived I was told I had made history,” he added.

The conference will discuss security disclosures on the Omagh bombing, cross-border electricity supplies and the Stormont stalemate.

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