08 April 2006

Deal deadline set to become law

BBC

The two governments' deadline for a deal to restore devolution will be written into an emergency law due to be brought before Parliament this month.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain told Radio Ulster's Inside Politics this will make the deadline rock solid.

He said unionists should not be concerned about any change to NI's constitutional position if a deal on devolution cannot be achieved.

"There's no question of joint authority or anything like that," Mr Hain said.

"There's no question of joint government. That would be in contravention of the referendum that that the people of Northern Ireland voted on when they endorsed the Good Friday Agreement.

"So there's no issue about that, it's not a constitutional matter."

Mr Hain also confirmed to the programme there were plans for a prime ministerial summit on Northern Ireland in June.

Deadline

The deadline for a deal on devolution is 24 November.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern travelled to Northern Ireland on Thursday to give parties a "take-it-or-leave-it" plan.

The assembly is to be recalled on 15 May with parties being given six weeks to elect an executive.

If that fails, the 108 members get a further 12 weeks to try to form a multi-party devolved government. If that attempt fails, salaries will stop.

The British and Irish governments would then work on partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement.

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