Taoiseach Bertie Ahern hosted British Cabinet minister Paul Howard and British-Irish Council (BIC) colleagues from the North, Scotland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Mr Ahern said of the 10th Council: "We will discuss closer cooperation on a range of issues, including the fight against drugs." Also attending the summit was the North's First Minister Rev Ian Paisley, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Rhodri Morgan of Wales. These political leaders are expected to hold a "Celtic leaders" meeting on the fringes of the summit. Mr Salmond said that Scotland aimed to become a "Celtic Lion" to match the success of the Celtic Tiger boom of Ireland. Making during his first official visit to Ireland as Scotland's First Minister, he told an audience at Trinity College how he planned a wide consultation process on his country's constitutional future.
British police recently seized 110kg of cocaine and arrested 22 people in a massive operation involving 500 officers in London and surrounding counties. Two Irish people were arrested in the operation. Gangland violence linked to the drug trade has also caused public outrage in Ireland in recent months. The BIC was being held in the 17th Century Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK) which is adjacent to Kilmainham Jail where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed. Also nearby are the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge where the Irish dead of World War I are remembered. "It is an honour to host the visiting delegations to this historic part of Dublin which resonates with so many aspects of the history of Ireland and of these islands," said the Taoiseach. "It is symbolic of the work we are now doing to promote peace in Northern Ireland and prosperity in these islands, and put the bitterness of the past behind us." The RHK dates back to 1679 when King Charles II put a levy on Irish military salaries to build a refuge for soldiers no longer fit to serve. The Council will also discuss improvingits future effectiveness now that devolved institutions in the North are fully participating.