04/06/2008

Don't 'Say No!' Urges Paisley

The newly elected DUP Leader and the Prime Minister have held crisis talks aimed at avoiding a political crisis in the North.

Meanwhile, the current First Minister - the ex DUP leader - Ian Paisley has said he believes Peter Robinson will indeed take up the reins on Thursday, but there is continuing speculation that Sinn Féin may not re-nominate Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister when Mr Paisley stands down - and bring the whole Assembly to a halt.

The seminal politician renowned for his long-running 'Ulster Says No' policy has today stated - without a hint if irony - that it would be an "evil thing" if anyone "so late in the day would now say no, we're stopping it".

But, Sinn Féin is widely acknowledged as being frustrated that the DUP could be using a claimed 'veto' to block a range of issues, including the devolution of policing and justice.

However there was little or no sign of such discontent as Mr Paisley arrived to open a new multi-million pound ferry terminal in Belfast alongside Martin McGuinness.

Also in conciliatory mood, Mr McGuinness said he hoped the outstanding issues could be resolved before Thursday.

"What we are dealing with is the need for all sides in this equation to recognise, 18 months on from the St Andrews Agreement, the absolute urgency required to see that agreement fulfilled," he said.

"Discussions are continuing as we speak. We will continue for as long as it is necessary to see the situation in a fashion that will convince people that there is an urgent desire to have the St Andrews Agreement fulfilled."

Sinn Fein is threatening not to support Peter Robinson for the post of First Minister on Thursday in a wrangle over whether London or Belfast should be in charge of policing and justice.

An Assembly election could be called within weeks if the handover of power between Ian Paisley and Mr Robinson does not go ahead.

On Tuesday Gerry Adams also met with Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street to express his unhappiness at the DUP's so-called veto of devolving policing and justice powers to Stormont.

(BMcC)

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