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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
No debate 'until agreement found'
Stormont
There will be no debates until there is agreement
There will be no more debates in the Northern Ireland Assembly until there is agreement on what can be debated, assembly members have been told.

The assembly's cross-party business committee had recommended four items for debate next Monday and Tuesday.

But, NI Secretary Peter Hain rejected them saying there was no agreement.

He said that there would be no debates until the Preparation for Government Committee agreed on what should be debated.

He said he would reverse his decision if this committee makes a recommendation.

The debates proposed by the business committee had included one on the Review of Public Administration.

Mr Hain also suggested he would defer any decision on debates for the following week on the same basis.

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy said the move has outraged some members of the business committee.

Committee opposition

"The Ulster Unionist member David McClarty insisted there was agreement among four of the five main parties, and it was only Sinn Fein who was opposed," she said.

"The Alliance member Keiran McCarthy said he was 'disgusted' by the decision.

"The SDLP's John Dallat said the move will step up pressure on Sinn Fein and the DUP to agree at the Programme for Government Committee.

"A DUP spokesman said Peter Hain's decision was unacceptable and warned of consequences if he continued to 'veto business'."

On 15 May, Northern Ireland's politicians took their seats in the Stormont assembly for the first time since October 2002.

A bid to elect a first minister and deputy first minister failed to gain the necessary cross-party support.

Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a republican spy ring. The court case that followed collapsed.

Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and has been in place since.




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