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June 13, 2006

Hain Appoints 2 to Chair Committee

Hain Appoints Two Deputy Speakers To Chair Committee

06/12/06 10:47 EST

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain today
appointed the Stormont Assembly's two deputy speakers to
chair a committee preparing for the return of devolved

After a week of deadlock between the Democratic Unionist
Party and the other Northern parties on who should chair the
Preparation for Government Committee, Mr Hain decided to
take the decision himself.

He said: "I would have preferred not to have had to issue a
decision on this procedural matter."

Deputy Speakers Jim Wells of the Democratic Unionist and
Francie Molloy of Sinn Féin will chair the committee which
has been tasked with identifying issues ahead of the
November 24th deadline for the return of a power sharing

Assembly members on the committee last week rowed over how
the committee should be chaired.

The Democratic Unionists had wanted Stormont Speaker Eileen
Bell to take charge of the committee. She refused, seeking
legal advice to back her refusal.

The other parties on the committee - Sinn Féin, the Ulster
Unionists, the nationalist SDLP and the Alliance Party -
suggested that the chairmanship should be rotated between
all the parties but that was vetoed by the DUP.

Mr Hain issued a direction to the Assembly speaker today
calling a meeting of the Preparation for Government
Committee at 4pm local time and announcing that Mr Wells and
Mr Molloy would from now on chair its meetings.

His statement stressed that the Deputy Speakers would chair
the meetings as impartial presiding officers and not as
representatives of their respective parties.

Earlier, Mr Hain said that he "would have preferred not to
have had to issue a direction on this procedural matter".

"The deadlock must not be allowed to stand in the way of the
important work that needs to be done," he added.

Mr Hain said all the parties had "accepted that deadlock
must not be allowed to stand in the way of the important
work that needs to be done to prepare for the return of
locally accountable government."

"The committee's initial task is to identify the issues that
need to be addressed to prepare for government and to refer
appropriate topics that need to be publicly aired and
debated in the assembly as part of the preparation process,"
he said.

The DUP had taken most of the blame from the other parties
for the deadlock.

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