[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Devolution: Key players
As an historic power-sharing deal is struck by the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein, we look at those most closely involved in the process towards Northern Ireland devolution.

IAN PAISLEY, DUP LEADER

Ian Paisley, once famous for saying 'no', has made an about-turn and now wants to settle into power-sharing rather than retirement.

It appears the 80-year-old would like to be first minister, even if the price of that is Martin McGuinness as his deputy.

He believes devolution will make a "real, meaningful improvement" to the lives of people in Northern Ireland.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN LEADER

Devolution would cement Gerry Adams's reputation among some as Northern Ireland's Nelson Mandela, the man who was unlucky not to win a Nobel prize for shifting his movement from armed struggle to peaceful politics.

For others, he will remain a hate figure, an apologist for IRA violence.

Having already nominated Martin McGuinness for deputy first minister, it is possible he could opt for the education portfolio.

MARK DURKAN, SDLP LEADER

Mark Durkan, the youngest of the party leaders, has long accepted he must demonstrate that the SDLP is about more than just the peace process itself.

Mr Durkan's critics - republicans included - concede the SDLP is becoming revitalised and he will now have the time and space needed to implement his long-term comeback strategy.

SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST LEADER

Sir Reg Empey, successor to David Trimble, will return to government in a vastly reduced capacity.

Last time around, his party were in charge, held the position of first minister and had a number of seats around the cabinet table.

Now following the elections, his party will go back in with two ministerial portfolios.

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER

David Ford enters the new assembly in a stronger position.

Having been expected to lose seats, his party gained one seat and since the election have reached agreement with members of the legislative assembly (one independent and one green) to form a "coherent opposition".

TONY BLAIR, UK PRIME MINISTER

Tony Blair has been anxious to achieve a deal on devolution in his last year in office.

He said: "Everything we have done over the last 10 years has been a preparation for this moment."

Some say devolution will secure his legacy, and that he may then be remembered as much for bringing peace to Northern Ireland as for the Iraq war.

BERTIE AHERN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said devolution had "the potential to transform the future of this island".

Without it, conflict, even violence, could return, he had earlier warned.

"This morning saw unprecedented and very positive developments."

PETER HAIN, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY

Peter Hain says devolution is the culmination of years of work by Tony Blair, himself and his predecessors.

People now wanted their politicians to concentrate on "bread and butter issues".

The role of Northern Ireland Secretary should remain until devolution in justice and policing, he says, but Mr Hain himself has made no secret of his intention to enter the race for deputy leader, once John Prescott steps down.





LATEST NEWS

ANALYSIS


BACKGROUND

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



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific