Blair gives Northern Ireland a deadline

April 6, 2006 at 11:12 PM
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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, April 6 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Northern Ireland politicians Thursday they have eight months to revive the political process.

The prime minister said if the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein have not formed a power-sharing executive by Nov. 24, salaries for members of the Northern Ireland Assembly will no longer be paid. The government has spent millions of pounds on members and staff expenses over the past three years.

Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern arrived in Northern Ireland on Thursday in an attempt to kick off yet another attempt to bring Unionists and Republicans together. This is almost certainly Blair's last effort.

Ian Paisley, the 80-year-old leader of the DUP, said the Blair-Ahern effort shows that "a foreign government has more say over Northern Ireland than the people of Northern Ireland." He blamed Sinn Fein's "terrorism" for the impasse.

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, urged Unionists to seize the opportunity for self-government in Northern Ireland.

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