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BBC NI Political Correpondent Martina Purdy asks:
Is the party nearly over for Alliance?
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Premiers needed to revive talks

'Premiers' authority needed in multi-party talks'
The leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party has called on the British and Irish prime ministers to come to Belfast to rescue the faltering peace accord.

Speaking during his party's 30th anniversary conference, Sean Neeson said the prime ministers should convene round-table multi-party talks as a matter of urgency.

He said the premiers could "inject the necessary authority to kick-start attempts to break this deadlock".

He reminded Secretary of State Peter Mandelson, who had addressed the conference on Saturday morning, that Monday would be second anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sean Neeson: Accused both sides of inflexibility
Mr Neeson, who is hoping to reverse his party's dwindling electoral returns, said Ulster Unionists and republicans would have to move away from their absolute positions.

He accused Sinn Fein - which was today holding its annual conference some 100 miles away in Dublin - of showing no flexibility.

The republican party had become the new "not an inch" politicians of Ireland, the new "No Surrender" party of Ulster politics, Mr Neeson said.

On the other side, when Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble had shown signs of flexibility during the St Patrick's day visit to Washington, "the dinosaurs in his party moved quickly to tie his hands", he argued.

He said that the attempt to link the unionist agenda on policing reform with any return of an executive was a "dead end".

Opening the conference on Friday night, party president Eileen Bell said Northern Ireland society was still deeply divided and gripped by an ongoing 'cold war'.

"The signs of division are everywhere - segregation in education, segregation in housing, and segregation in leisure.

"Sectarianism, bigotry and intolerance remain far too prevalent."

Referring to the presence of 'peace' walls dividing Protestant and Catholic areas, she said Belfast remained the only walled city in Europe with "as many as 13 built to keep people apart".

"There is a real danger that we could be heading for a society based upon the concept of `separate but equal' - separate communities living in peaceful co-existence but rigidly divided from each other and supposedly equal in status."

The party conference is being held in Carrickfergus, on the outskirts of Belfast.

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07 Apr 00 | picture story
Cold war continues in Northern Ireland
08 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Adams warns of return to violence
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