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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Assembly members set for recall
Assembly members are to be recalled to Stormont
The deadline for efforts to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly has been set for 24 November, political sources have told the BBC.

The date emerged after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern held talks with Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party in Dublin.

Assembly members are to be called to Stormont on 15 May for a six-week period to try to form an executive.

An emergency bill is also expected to be put through Westminster to change some of the Stormont rules.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said the assembly would break for summer before being recalled in September for 12 weeks until the end of November.

He also said the political parties have been told the British and Irish governments are considering holding more talks at a stately home during the summer recess to deal with outstanding problems.

News of the deadline followed a series of talks between the Irish premier and some of Northern Ireland's political parties in Dublin on Thursday.

Political progress

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said some of the ideas being considered by the government "were not consistent with the Good Friday Agreement".

"We believe it is incumbent upon both governments not to be bullied by (the DUP's) Ian Paisley and not to facilitate Ian Paisley's obstructionism towards the implementation of the agreement," he said.

"We are more than willing to go into government with Ian Paisley and his party but we are not going into limbo with him."

Speaking after meeting with Mr Ahern, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said his party has some concerns about the two governments' proposals for restoring devolution.

"We want all the institutions restored with full powers and the parties put into a live situation, not shadow boxing in a shadow assembly," he said.

After his party's talks with Mr Ahern, Alliance leader David Ford said it was important that the two governments stayed engaged and did not leave it to Northern Ireland's politicians.

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern met with a number of NI's political parties

"The key issue is that the two governments build on issues like a shared future and stop just managing division," he said.

After the meetings Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, said the parties had a clear sense of the strategy which would be outlined by the British and Irish prime ministers next week.

"We have made it quite clear as far as we are concerned that the Good Friday Agreement will be implemented in full," he said.

"Ultimately we wish the politicians in Northern Ireland to be the authors of their own destiny."

Economic assistance

Meanwhile, sources have also told the BBC that next week's package of economic assistance for deprived loyalist areas should amount to about 30m.

Some sources within unionism have expressed disappointment at the sum, given the recent cuts in areas such as education in Belfast.

However, other loyalist sources said they see the initiative as a challenge and will work with whatever money is provided for areas such as skills and training, housing and urban regeneration.

Devolved government at Stormont was suspended in October 2002 following allegations of a republican spy ring at the Northern Ireland Office.

However, doubt was cast on that after a senior Sinn Fein official acquitted of involvement said he had been a British agent for 20 years and that there was no spy ring.




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