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Flash: British govt postpones election, no date set

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  • Jim Mackle
    ... President AOH 17 MSN 8 with e-mail virus protection service: 2 months FREE*
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2003
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      >>>>>>> Flash: British govt postpones election, no date set


      The British government has agreed to a request from Ulster
      Unionist leader David Trimble to again postpone elections to the
      Belfast Assembly, this time "until the autumn".

      Nominations had already been accepted and campaigning was in full
      swing for the election which was due last month but had been
      postponed until May 29.

      British Secretary of State Paul Murphy made the announcement in
      the House of Commons shortly after 2.30 p.m. The Irish Prime
      Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will make a statement on the
      matter shortly.  It is the latest hammer-blow to a peace process
      which faces an uncertain future over the traditionally difficult
      summer marching season.

      "We believe there remains lack of clarity on the crucial issue of
      whether IRA is prepared for a full, immediate and permanent
      cessation of all paramilitary activity," Paul Murphy told the
      British parliament.

      "We have concluded that we should postpone the elections until
      the autumn," he added, in another blow to the British-ruled
      province's faltering peace process.

      Murphy said the IRA needed to say that it would stop "military
      attacks, training, targeting, intelligence-gathering, acquisition
      or development of arms, preparation for 'terrorist campaigns',
      punishment beatings and attacks, and involvement in riots."

      Republicans see little prospect of the IRA using such words in a
      statement and have bristled at the implication that unproven
      allegations in the media of ongoing IRA activity are true.

      There was also disappointment that there was no announcement
      today about the possible release of the British and Irish
      governments' Joint Declaration, or blueprint, on the future of
      the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, containing commitments on
      policing, justice, equality, human rights and demilitarisation.

      Throughout the morning, political parties in the North were
      becoming increasingly concerned the British government would
      quickly pass a law to prevent the election going ahead following
      a meeting between David Trimble and British Prime Minister Tony
      Blair last night.  Mr Trimble and Mr Blair are understood to be
      concerned at the prospects of Trimble's party in a possible
      election and at the possibility that Sinn Fein could become the
      largest nationalist party in the Assembly, securing the position
      of the First or Deputy First Minister.

      Last night, the British government issued fresh demands for
      clarification and was dismissive of a statement by Sinn Fein
      President Gerry Adams in which he explained the IRA's position
      that there would be no activity contrary to the peace process in
      its determination to bring "complete and final closure of the
      conflict".

      The statement and his previous address on Sunday have been
      strongly welcomed at home and internationally as satisfying the
      latest demands for "acts of completion".

      However, Ulster Unionist leader Mr David Trimble rejected the
      statement from Mr Adams, and Downing Street is understood to have
      issued five more requests for "certainty".

      Exasperated republicans now consider it impossible to satisfy
      what are seen as endless and insatiable unionists demands now
      being promoted by the British government.

      Sinn Fein chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin said they were not
      prepared to engage in further "word games" with the British
      government, and said a postponement of the elections was called
      just to suit Mr Trimble's party.

      "David Trimble decided at his party conference last March,
      ratified at a further party conference in September last year,
      that they were going to collapse the political institutions and
      contest the elections, if at all, from outside the political
      institutions," he said.

      "That is why we find it impossible to make a deal and
      unfortunately Tony Blair has bought into that apparently".




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      Jim Mackle
      President
      AOH 17


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