Fianna Fáil has been officially recognised as a political party in Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach announced this evening.

Bertie Ahern told the party's annual Cairde Fáil dinner in Dublin that Northern Ireland's Electoral Commission had confirmed that Fianna Fáil was now officially registered there.

The Taoiseach said this was an historic step in the development of the party on an All-Ireland basis.

Mr Ahern also welcomed two newly formed cumainn to the party - one in Queens University, Belfast, and the other at the University of Ulster.

He also used his speech to thank the party membership for their hard work and long hours canvassing when, as he put it, others were telling them to pack up and go home, and for the personal support they had given him over the past year.

He said the achievement of securing an historic third term was a source of 'immense pride' and that it would be remembered as one of the strongest political performances ever, as it was achieved while 'facing into a strong wind'.

In a swipe at Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, he said that while their opponents were talking about 'buying new shoes for the Áras', Fianna Fáil members were wearing out shoe leather knocking on doors and getting out the vote.