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March 26, 2007

May 8th Agreed Date For Return of Devolution

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams at the Stormont news conference

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/26/07 May Date For Return To Devolution


May Date For Return To Devolution

A May date for the return of NI devolved government has been
agreed following an historic meeting between the leaders of the
DUP and Sinn Fein.

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, sitting side by side at a news
conference in Stormont on Monday, confirmed that power-sharing
would begin on 8 May.

The DUP leader had dropped his long standing ban on talking to
Sinn Fein.

The British and Irish governments had said they would shut the
assembly if an executive was not agreed on Monday.

The Stormont Assembly was due to meet at noon to appoint
ministers to a devolved government.

Instead, the two party delegations met at Parliament Buildings,

Mr Adams - wearing his Easter lily to commemorate those who died
in the 1916 rebellion - and Mr Paisley were said to be juxtaposed
at one corner of a table.

After the meeting, Mr Paisley said: "Our goal has been to see
devolution returned in a context where it can make a real,
meaningful improvement in the lives of all the people of this
part of the United Kingdom.

"On Saturday, the DUP executive overwhelmingly endorsed a motion
committing our party to support and participate fully in
government in May of this year - this is a binding resolution."

Mr Adams said he welcomed Mr Paisley's statement.

"I believe the agreement reached between Sinn Fein and the DUP -
including the unequivocal commitment made by their party
executive and reiterated today - to the restoration of political
institutions on 8 May marks the beginning of a new era of
politics on this island," he said.

"The basis of the agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP follows
Ian Paisley's unequivocal and welcome commitment to support and
participate fully in the political institutions on 8 May."

Time 'slip'

Earlier on Monday, Secretary of State Peter Hain said Northern
Ireland's devolution deadline may be allowed "to slip" for a few
weeks if the parties agree to work together.

He said the assembly would be dissolved if agreement was not
reached by 26 March.

An order signed by the NI secretary restarted devolution at

Have Your Say

NI needs a government made up of politicians from real political
parties capable of forming national governments, not just
regional talking shops - Thomas, Bangor

In the assembly election earlier this month, the DUP and Sinn
Fein emerged as the two largest parties.

If devolution does not return, controversial water bills will
also be posted to homes in Northern Ireland within days, said the

Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised an extra œ1bn if devolution
is back on Monday on top of œ35bn promised by the government over
four years.

If a power-sharing executive is formed, it will have four DUP
ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP.

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: 2007/03/26 11:35:41 GMT

Regular meetings will take place between Paisley and Sinn Fein's
Martin McGuinness as the de facto First and Deputy First
Ministers and there will be a programme of work set up between
now and May 8, Dr Paisley said.

Sinn F‚in and the DUP are to seek a meeting with Chancellor
Gordon Brown to agree an economic package and they have asked
Prime Minister Tony Blair to delay the introduction of water

Mr Paisley said: "This meeting represents an important step on
the road to the setting-up of a power-sharing executive in six
weeks' time."

The date was confirmed by Dr Paisley after the first face-to-face
meeting between the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and
Sinn Fein, lasting an hour, in the dining room at Stormont's
Parliament Buildings.

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