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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 16:37 GMT
DUP granted new legal challenge
Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley outside the High Court
Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley outside the High Court
The Democratic Unionist Party has been given the all-clear to proceed with further legal action against Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble.

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Kerr granted leave to the anti-Agreement DUP's deputy leader Peter Robinson to incorporate an application for an injunction into the judicial review he was granted last week.

Mr Robinson is seeking to prevent David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan from fulfilling the functions of their office due to the manner in which they were elected.

He is also challenging Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid's decision to postpone an assembly election until May, 2003.

Northern Ireland Secretary
John Reid: To review assembly procedures

However, Justice Kerr said the attempt to stop Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan from filling their respective offices should form a "central position" in the other case rather than proceed as a separate legal challenge.

The case will come on for mention on 22 November and the hearing has been fixed for 3 December

The attempt to prevent Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan from carrying out their duties as first and deputy first minister was launched by Mr Robinson and his party colleague Nigel Dodds last week.

Earlier, a judge ruled that the DUP could press ahead with a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland secretary's decision not to call an assembly election after a deadline for the election of the first and deputy first ministers expired.

Dr Reid, who is to begin a review of some of the assembly's voting procedures on 19 November, said there was no need to have an assembly election before May 2003 following the election of a first and deputy first minister on 6 November.

Review

The latest case is based on the contention that the election of the two ministers, with the help of three redesignated Alliance Party assembly members, was unlawful because it took place after the statutory six-week deadline.

Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan were elected to the top two posts at Stormont at a special meeting of the Stormont Assembly, four days after being defeated in the first vote when two dissidents in Trimble's part voted against him.

Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan needed the support of the Alliance members - who redesignated as unionists - to be elected because they had to gain a majority in both the unionist and nationalist blocs.

Dr Reid is to review the assembly's cross-party majority voting rules, following the developments.

The three Alliance members who redesignated as unionist officially redesignate back to the centre from midnight on Tuesday after they gave seven days notice.

Alliance deputy leader Eileen Bell said: "Alliance has always had a clear identity as a cross-community, anti-sectarian party of the centre."

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BBC NIs Julia Paul reports:
"The judge said the action should form a central position in the other case rather than as a separate legal challenge"

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See also:

06 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Governments welcome Trimble election
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Politicians create tense backdrop
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid dismisses NI legal threat
06 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Q&A: Trimble elected
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