McGuinness confident Trimble vote will pass


Parties supporting the Belfast Agreement will stand together to secure the future of the political institutions in tomorrow's crucial Assembly vote for Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has claimed.

The Stormont Education Minister said he was "not contemplating failure" ahead of the Assembly's second effort to elect Ulster Unionist Party leader Mr David Trimble and incoming SDLP leader Mr Mark Durkan to the two top posts in the Executive.

With the cross-community Alliance Party confirming some of its Assembly members would follow the Women's Coalition's decision last Friday to redesignate one MLA as unionist, Mr McGuinness said he was "very hopeful that we will have a First and Deputy First Minister in place tomorrow.

"Clearly, those opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process had their day on Friday when they defeated David Trimble and Mark Durkan.

"But it is also very clear from the work of the pro-Agreement parties since then that there is a determination to get all the institutions including the executive, the north south structures back up and running.

"We will see tomorrow an amendment to Standing Orders laid before the Assembly which will have the opportunity to decide whether to adopt it.

"That will be a democratic decision. People should accept the outcome of that.

"Then there will be the vote for First and Deputy First Minister and I very much hope we will see what the vast majority of people on this island - the 70 per cent who voted for the Agreement in the referendum in the North and the 90 per cent throughout the island of Ireland - want. That is stable institutions in place and people getting on with the huge responsibility of governing and implementing in full the Agreement."

The Mid Ulster MP paid tribute to the work of the two governments and especially the pro-Agreement parties in trying to rescue the institutions following Friday.

While receiving full nationalist backing and 70 per cent of the Assembly vote, Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan failed because they fell an agonising one vote short of securing the majority of unionists as they are required to do under Assembly rules.

Two rebel Ulster Unionists Mr Peter Weir and Ms Pauline Armitage joined with anti-Agreement unionists in defiance of their party leader, Mr Trimble.