Irish minister Simon Coveney attends DUP conference

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Gareth Gordon reports

Simon Coveney has become the first Irish government minister to attend and address a DUP conference.

Mr Coveney, who is the Irish Republic's agriculture minister, was the keynote speaker at the event, which began in Belfast on Friday.

The DUP junior minister, Jonathan Bell, accepted an invitation to address the conference of Mr Coveney's party, Fine Gael, earlier this year.

DUP leader Peter Robinson will address the conference on Saturday.

Mr Coveney said his appearance at the conference in the La Mon hotel was further proof of the increasing trust among politicians in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"I hope we can develop the kind of friendship and kind of trust politically that's needed between the largest party in Northern Ireland and the largest party in the Republic of Ireland," he said.

"This is another step in that direction."

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