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March 25, 2007

Hains Signs Order on NI Devolution

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/25/07 Hain Signs Order On NI Devolution


Hain Signs Order On NI Devolution

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has signed an order
restoring power to the Stormont assembly from midnight.

It comes despite a decision from the DUP not to nominate
ministers to a power-sharing executive at Stormont on Monday, but
to share power in May.

Earlier, Mr Hain described this as an historic move by the party.

But he insisted Stormont would be dissolved if Monday's deadline
was not met - but said if parties could agree an alternative, he
was open to that.

On Saturday, the DUP's ruling executive overwhelmingly passed a
resolution offering a definite date, in May, for going into
government with Sinn Fein.

The party said it would do so if the government delays its
devolution deadline by six weeks.

It is believed the DUP feels it reached an understanding with the
government about the delay during talks on Friday.

Success or failure?

However, speaking on Sunday, Mr Hain said: "Success tomorrow
would be devolution, failure would be dissolution. I don't at the
moment see any other way, I only see it our way.

"If there is another way if the parties have got their own way
then they need to jointly agree it and come back to me pretty
quickly, because otherwise the law kicks in and there's nothing I
can do about it."

On Saturday, the DUP said it was willing to bridge the gap
between now and May with preparatory work, "including
departmental pre-briefings and finalising a programme for

It said it wanted the extra time "to raise the level of
confidence in the community and instil a positive attitude
towards devolution and local control".

"The Ulster people will be persuaded, they will not be driven,"
party leader Ian Paisley said.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the DUP was seeking to
"frustrate the will of the electorate".

"If the DUP wants a functioning assembly after 26 March this can
only happen through direct dialogue and agreement with Sinn Fein
and the other parties," he said.

"In the meantime the two governments must now proceed to put in
place their all-Ireland partnership arrangements."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said if the DUP needed time
it should just nominate ministers then have the assembly go into
easter recess.

"Throughout the election campaign the DUP said its approach to
devolution was condition led not calendar led.

Financial package

"Now, however, the DUP executive says it will share power with
Sinn Fein on a specific date in May," he said.

"This is a further U-turn. What difference does six weeks make?"

Mr Paisley held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair twice within
48 hours this week.

After the second meeting, Downing Street reiterated that Monday's
deadline stood.

Mr Paisley said a "great deal of ground" had been covered.

However, he earlier said a financial package offered by
Chancellor Gordon Brown did not meet Northern Ireland's economic

Mr Brown has promised an extra œ1bn if devolution is back on

The cash is on top of œ35bn promised by the government over four

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October
2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.

A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place
since that date.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/25 11:42:32 GMT

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