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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Hain says Groundhog Day must end
Peter Hain arriving at the conference on Saturday
Peter Hain addressed the Labour Party conference
People in Northern Ireland are sick and tired of having their "very own political Groundhog Day", Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said.

Mr Hain said he was determined to stick to his November deadline for parties to agree a deal on power-sharing.

He said politicians in Northern Ireland now faced a "historic decision".

Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, he said if the deadline was missed, he would close down the assembly the following week.

'Sick and tired'

"Northern Ireland has seen many deadlines, seen many come, seen many go, but this one we've put in law because the process cannot be allowed to become an end in itself," Mr Hain said.

"People in Northern Ireland are sick and tired of having their very own political Groundhog Day and it's time it came to an end."

Earlier, DUP leader Ian Paisley, who is attending the conference for the first time, warned the government that he would "not respond to threats or bullying".

Speaking at a breakfast meeting, Mr Paisley said that what he called "the IRA's criminal empire" must be demolished if there was to be a deal.

He said any agreement in the future should be endorsed by the people through a fresh election.

Responding to the comments, Peter Hain said he agreed that bullying would not work, but he said that local politicians "could not keep going round the same circle continually".




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Mark Devenport reports from Manchester



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