Belfast Telegraph

Northern Talks to take place in Cardiff

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today meet Northern Ireland Secretary ofState Peter Hain for talks on the forthcoming elections to the Stormont Assembly

in Belfast.

Mr Ahern and Prime Minister Tony Blair have given the green light for Northern

Ireland Assembly elections scheduled for March 7, but have warned political

parties to adhere to the strict timetable set down in the St Andrews Agreement.

Mr Ahern noted that recent events, such as Sinn Fein's historic endorsement of

policing, offered real hope and a clear-cut opportunity for Northern Ireland.

``If the parties adhere to this agreement and timescale, the people of

Northern Ireland can look forward to the restoration of shared government next

month following the March 7 elections,'' he said in a statement.

He added: ``The elections are taking place on the basis that all parties

understand and accept the ground rules - support for power sharing, support for

policing and a fixed deadline for the new Executive to be in place on March 26.

``There is a very great responsibility on all the parties to rise to the

challenges ahead.

``The people of Northern Ireland are entitled, after four years of suspension,

to see their elected representatives working actively and openly for them in a

fully restored Assembly and shared government.

The talks are taking place in Cardiff. Afterwards both men will later attend

the Six Nations rugby international between Ireland and Wales at the Millennium



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