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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 09:54 GMT
PM to hold talks with Alliance leader
The Stormont Assembly
Mr Ford wants a review of the NI Assembly's voting rules
The voting system in the Northern Ireland Assembly is one of the issues the Alliance Party leader, David Ford, will discuss with Tony Blair on Wednesday.

Mr Ford will tell the prime minister that the current system discriminates against the centre parties such as Alliance.

He said the government must recognise the inadequacies within the current voting system.

The South Antrim assembly member is also likely to raise his party's objections to government plans to allow people "on the run" to return to Northern Ireland without sanctions being taken against them.

David Ford
David Ford: To meet Mr Blair on Wednesday

Mr Ford said: "In November we agreed a single issue review of assembly voting arrangements which disappointingly came to nothing.

"The NIO have been unable to give us details of the comprehensive review which is due to start at the beginning of May.

"The Prime Minister and Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern) have a responsibility for convening that review and we are taking that opportunity to emphasise the importance of resolving the designation problem before it inevitably causes further difficulties."

The meeting follows talks between Mr Blair and the nationalist SDLP on Tuesday.

The delegation, headed by party leader Mark Durkan and including Brid Rodgers and Alex Attwood, met Mr Blair at Downing Street.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Durkan said they discussed issues including criminal justice and outstanding matters relating to the Weston Park proposals.

Earlier this month, Mr Ford called for a review of the Good Friday Agreement before the summer.

Last year, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid agreed to review some of the Stormont Assembly's voting procedures.

It came after the Alliance Party temporarily redesignated some of its members as unionist in order to secure the re-election of David Trimble as first minister and therefore save the assembly from collapse.

Mr Trimble initially failed to get elected because two hardliners in his party joined anti-Agreement unionists in voting against him.

The election of first and deputy first minister needed the support of a majority of unionists and nationalists, under the assembly's cross-party majority voting rules.


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See also:

22 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Alliance call for review of Agreement
19 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid reviews voting rules
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