Reid praises Alliance for redesignation


The peace process has many difficult days of ahead it despite last night's deal to resurrect the Executive, Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid said today.

On the eve of a second crucial Assembly vote aimed to elect First and Deputy First Ministers, Dr Reid praised the North’s two cross-community parties, Alliance and the Women's Coalition for redesignating members as unionists for the sake of the institutions.

But after last night's car bomb attack in Birmingham which has been blamed on dissident republicans, Dr Reid acknowledged: "There will be huge difficulties ahead - not only in the coming days but over the coming months and years.

"We are trying to change around decades, indeed centuries of conflict.

"What we do know is where there is a political vacuum, where there is instability in the political institutions, then the men of violence will try to wreck this peace process. We saw it last night again in the course of the night in Birmingham.

"So what has happened in the last few days is that many people inside Northern Ireland as well as outside find it difficult to understand that a candidate, David Trimble could have 80 per cent of his own executive and over 70 per cent support of the Assembly members and still not get elected, thus giving us this instability."

Dr Reid told BBC's Breakfast with Frost today that by redesignating from "other" to "unionist", Alliance and the Women's Coalition, before them, had "made a very, brave decision because there is nothing in it for them.

"There's no self gain for them in this. They have done this because they believe very, strongly in the peace process and the stability of the Assembly and the Executive in Northern Ireland.

"So that at least gives an opportunity. It is now a matter for the Assembly."