Belfast Telegraph

Pope Francis could still visit Northern Ireland, says Dublin Archbishop

One of the most senior figures in the Irish Catholic church has said a visit by Pope Francis to Northern Ireland this summer is still a possibility.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said despite the visit of the pontiff only taking place across two days in August, he could still travel north of the border.

Speaking to the Irish Times at an event over the weekend, the Archbishop said if Northern Catholic Bishops were to "organise an event around the family" it might make it easier for a visit to happen, and that the Pope would not be participating in a political event.

Details of the papal visit were confirmed last month, appearing to quash speculation the Pope could be set to visit Northern Ireland.

Speaking to UTV in 2016, late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he thought there was "no prospect whatsoever of him coming to Ireland and him not coming to the north".

Former First Minister Arlene Foster stated she would be open to meeting the Pope in his capacity as head of state were he to visit Northern Ireland.

Pope Francis will be in Ireland on August 25 and 26 for the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event held every three years which promotes the role of families in the Catholic church.

The Pope will celebrate mass in the Phoenix Park during his visit.

In 1979 when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland - the last visit by a sitting pontiff to Ireland - more than one million people turned out for a similar open air mass.

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