Hain optimistic despite DUP delay calls

Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain will attempt to restore power to Stormont before tomorrow’s deadline despite requests to delay the cut-off date from the Democratic Unionist party (DUP).

Yesterday 90 per cent of the DUP’s ruling executive members voted in favour of a resolution requesting to push back the existing power-sharing agreement deadline at the Northern Ireland Assembly by six weeks.

Mr Hain chose to emphasise the fundamental historical significance of the power-sharing agreement when asked about the DUP’s concerns.

“This is the first time the DUP has said they will share power with Sinn Fein. People said this would never happen and it is a breakthrough,” the Associated Press news agency quoted Mr Hain as saying.

He said he planned on signing the restoration order tomorrow in case a deal was reached. If no agreement is achieved the British government will dissolve Stormont, however.

The 120-member executive’s decision threatens the province’s delicate power-sharing deal.

In response to yesterday’s development, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams accused the DUP of trying to “frustrate the will of the electorate” and declared that the March 26th deadline should be adhered to.

“There will be deep disappointment and dismay at the failure of leadership by the DUP and their efforts to frustrate the will of the people,” Mr Adams said.

But DUP leader Ian Paisley told reporters yesterday that “the Ulster people will be persuaded; they will not be driven.”

Direct rule from Westminster has been in place in the province since a court case over an alleged IRA spy ring in the assembly collapsed in October 2002.