Election tension mounts as talks continue
Politicians in the North of Ireland are bracing themselves for
an election as the search continues in Belfast for a
breakthrough to revive the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The devolved local administration collapsed last October
following the withdrawal of the Ulster Unionist Party over
allegations of IRA activity.
Elections to the Belfast Assembly which were due in April were
controversially cancelled twice this year by the British
On Monday, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams led a delegation to
meet British Secretary of State Paul Murphy at Hillsborough
Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, who also attended the meeting, said
afterwards that they had raised concerns about human rights
and equality issues.
"The British government has not implemented issues arising
from the Good Friday Agreement, long-standing issues on
justice and equality and that is where our focus was here this
morning," added Mr Maskey.
The devolution of power over responsibility for policing and
justice were two issues of great importance to Sinn Fein, he
He also described some of the weekend speculation about an
imminent IRA move was "probably inaccurate and certainly
More talks are due to take place today between Gerry Adams and
Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble. Mr Trimble is also due
to continue his discussion with the his party's officer board
about party divisions over the recent British Irish joint
Meanwhile, the leader of the nationalist SDLP, Mark Durkan has
predicted that even if it were not clear that elections would
lead to the immediate restoration of the Executive and
Assembly, he was confident that elections would happen before
"Regardless of whether there is a deal, regardless of whether
it is a messy deal, a fudged deal, or a near miss like we had
back in spring, I think the situation will slide back into an
election anyway," added Mr Durkan.
With election fever mounting, the hardline unionist DUP has
made increasingly strident attacks on Trimble's UUP, accusing
them that of negotiating a deal which would cause
"irretrievable damage" to the union with Britain.
The two nationalist parties have clashed in Strabane have
clashed over a planned protest at the first public meeting of
the local police board tomorrow night.
The SDLP said the protest tomorrow night amounted to
"psychological intimidation" of members following threats from
dissident republicans against nationalist members of the
District Policing Partnership (DPP).
Sinn Fein said it would hold a peaceful and dignified protest
to highlight its opposition to the current structural and
accountability arrangements of the DPPs.