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Assembly rescue hope.

NORTHERN Ireland's power-sharing assembly remained on the brink of collapse last night as pressure mounted on a small cross-community party to bail out the political institution.

The non-sectarian Alliance Party was heading to Stormont for talks with the nationalist SDLP and Sinn Fein. Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid had until midnight last night to judge whether it was possible to elect new first and deputy first ministers.

Assembly rescue deal

NORTHERN Ireland's Alliance Party last night agreed to change the designation of its assembly members to unionist to solve the political crisis at Stormont.

After a frantic round of negotiations, party sources said they were planning to change the affiliation of Alliance Assembly members to help Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble return to the power-sharing government.

Mr Trimble and incoming SDLP leader Mark Durkan failed on Friday to get elected as first and deputy first ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive in an Assembly vote.

Both men secured the full support of nationalists but fell one vote short of the Unionist majority Ulster required.

An Alliance sourcesaid: 'We have decided to redesignate as unionists for a period of a week.'
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2001
Words:190
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