Irish tourism merger still on schedule

NEW YORK -- Despite sectarian violence and political instability in the province of Ulster, the planned merger of the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland tourist boards is going forward, as the new joint entity (Tourism Ireland) named a chief executive.

Paul O'Toole, former general manager of corporate development at Ireland's tourism board office in Dublin, joined the bi-national board of directors in overseeing completion of the boards' unification, which is scheduled for September.

The recent unrest has not yet affected the merger plans, according to a spokeswoman for the Irish Tourism Board in New York.

However, Britain and Ireland face an Aug. 12 deadline to broker disarmament by the Irish Republican Army and Protestant paramilitaries.

Should the talks fail, Ulster's provincial government could fall, possibly taking Northern Ireland Tourist Board officials and their agenda with it.

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