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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 18:54 GMT
Stormont political talks delayed
Stormont
The talks were due to take place at Stormont
Talks between British and Irish ministers and the Northern Ireland parties due to take place at Stormont on Wednesday have been postponed.

The government said this was because Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were to meet in Downing Street on the same day.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern will also attend.

However, some politicians believe the postponement was a sign of a lack of direction in the political process.

Mr Hain had highlighted Wednesday as a target date for potential changes to the rules of any future Stormont assembly.

Downing Street said neither a joint British-Irish news conference nor a definitive policy statement was expected after this week's prime ministerial talks.

Former NI Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy believes the parties should be sparked into action
Earlier on Sunday, former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said the devolved assembly at Stormont should be restored if current political negotiations fail.

He told the BBC's Politics Show it would force the parties to either form a government or to face a fresh poll.

"My own view is if they can't sort (the assembly) through negotiations, they restore it, as the act of parliament and the Good Friday Agreement said.

"They have six weeks to sort it out and if they don't, you'd have an election."

Mr Murphy added: "Obviously that's not the best way to sort it out - the best way is to try and restore in the knowledge that it's going to work."


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