[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
SDLP to discuss recall with Hain
Peter Hain
The SDLP is to meet Peter Hain
NI Secretary Peter Hain is to meet an SDLP delegation to discuss the May recall of the assembly.

The delegation, headed by party leader Mark Durkan, will meet Mr Hain on Monday afternoon.

South Down assembly member Margaret Ritchie said they wanted to know if "a real path to restoration or a pointless DUP talking shop" was being proposed.

Earlier on Monday Mr Hain met a Sinn Fein delegation to discuss the planned recall of Stormont.

On Sunday, Mr Hain said NI politicians could not continue to cite fears over IRA terrorism as a reason for not joining a power-sharing government.

Report

The secretary of state was speaking ahead of a report by the commission set up to monitor paramilitary activity.

The DUP's Jim Allister said Mr Hain's comments show the government is ready to turn a blind eye to IRA criminality.

"Hence his attempt to bounce unionism by focusing solely on violence," Mr Allister said.

"For unionism, however, the issue is not just about direct IRA violence, it's about attaining an irreversible end to the whole panoply of their activities, including criminality in all its forms. Hain may wish to ignore this, but we will not."

The assembly is to be recalled on 15 May with a 24 November deadline for electing a new executive.

Mr Hain said that Northern Ireland was "light years away" from where it had been.

Stormont
The NI Assembly has been suspended since October 2002

Speaking on GMTV's Sunday Programme, Mr Hain said republicans were increasingly heading towards engagement in democratic politics.

He said the IRA was "cracking down" on criminal activity, although there were still problems with some dissidents as well as loyalist paramilitaries.

"I don't think that any politician in Northern Ireland can use the excuse for much longer that the IRA poses a terrorist threat or that it's organised some central criminal conspiracy as a reason not to join in a power-sharing government over the coming period."

The 24 November deadline would not be extended, Mr Hain added, and said the DUP had a "historic destiny" to take their place.

On Thursday, the government published emergency legislation to enable the Northern Ireland Assembly to be recalled on 15 May.

The government also confirmed the next assembly elections would be postponed until May 2008 if the executive was restored by this date.

The legislation is expected to become law by 8 May.

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

Three men accused of being implicated in it were later acquitted.


NI POLITICAL PROCESS

LATEST NEWS


ANALYSIS

BACKGROUND

KEY PEOPLE PROFILED
 
POLITICAL LINKS
 
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
IN-DEPTH REPORT

HAVE YOUR SAY



PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific