A spokesperson for the Taoiseach has said it was deeply regrettable that the leader of the DUP, Rev Ian Paisley, made remarks about the President yesterday.

In unscripted comments to his party conference, Dr Paisley said he does not like the President of the Irish Republic. 'I don't like her because she is dishonest,' he said. 'She pretends to love this province and she hates it.'

He went on to make a series of allegations about the President's security arrangements when she travels to the North. 

The statement issued on the Taoiseach's behalf said nobody has done more than the President to reach out courageously and imaginatively to all communities in Northern Ireland or to acknowledge in a public way the very considerable progress which has been made in policing in Northern Ireland.

This controversy comes on the eve of a series of meetings between the North's parties, including the DUP, and the British and Irish governments at Hillsborough.