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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 17:25 GMT
Candidates hand in election forms
The electorate will vote in a new assembly
Candidates in next month's assembly election handed in their nomination forms at eight centres across Northern Ireland.

Nominations closed on Tuesday for the 7 March poll which the government hopes will set the scene for a return to devolution.

Nomination papers were handed over in Belfast, Londonderry, Ballymena, Glengormley, Banbridge and Omagh.

Each candidate has to pay a 150 deposit.

After DUP candidates handed in their nomination papers in Belfast, party leader Ian Paisley expressed concern about renewed reports that on-the-run paramilitaries could get an amnesty.

"If they do that, the whole thing is over, they have destroyed everything," said Mr Paisley.

But Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams played the reports down.

"There has never been any issue from our point of view about an amnesty," he said.

Ballot box
Northern Ireland is going to the polls on 7 March

Alex Attwood of the SDLP said on-the-runs must "not now be allowed to walk because the British government and Sinn Fein says it's in the public interest so to do."

The Ulster Unionists made it clear that if a devolved government is formed they will not be in opposition.

Party leader Sir Reg Empey said: "Our objective is to form an executive; we will take our places in that executive. Who joins that executive is a matter for them."

Meanwhile, anyone who cannot vote in person on polling day can either apply for a postal vote or nominate someone else to vote on their behalf, known as proxy voting.

The Electoral Commission has said anyone who wants to vote by post or proxy in the 7 March poll must apply by Thursday 15 February.

Proxy vote

Seamus Magee, Head of the Electoral Commission, said: "If you're suffering from an illness, out of Northern Ireland on business or pleasure that day, studying away from home or have recently moved house and are still registered at your former address, you can still vote.

"Applying for a postal or proxy vote is very simple. If you need an application form then you can call our helpline, download a copy from our website or visit your local area electoral office."

Twenty-five different nationalities have registered to vote in the election.

Nearly 2,000 Poles have signed the electoral register, as well as 900 Portuguese, and nearly 800 Lithuanians.

It is thought more than 6,000 foreign nationals may vote when Northern Ireland goes to the polls on 7 March.

On 26 March, a power-sharing executive is scheduled to be formed.





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