Taoiseach hails Alliance move as "brave and helpful


The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern has underscored confidence that Ulster Unionist Party leader Mr David Trimble will tomorrow be re-elected as Northern Ireland's First Minister.

He also hailed last night's move by the Northern Ireland Alliance Party to redesignate some of their members as Unionists to ensure Mr Trimble's return to office as "brave and helpful."

Mr Ahern added: "It will allow things to proceed tomorrow - hopefully Mr Trimble will be re-elected and SDLP leader Mark Durkan will be deputy first minister.

"That will permit the Northern Ireland executive to be reformed and reconstituted and allow us to get with a period of stability. It should safeguard the peace process."

Mr Ahern was in Bodenstown, Co Kildare, at the annual commemoration at the graveside of Wolfe Tone.

He said: "I want to acknowledge that the Alliance Party have been very helpful and the Women's Coalition have been very supportive.

"Nobody wants to see the Good Friday agreement damaged or fall - I don't think any of the parties want to see that, regardless of what they say in public."

The Taoiseach said people opposed to the Belfast agreement would always try to find things to frustrate progress - "some kind of pre-condition to prevent normality going on.

"In spite of their efforts over the last number of years, while we have still have some violence, it is declining all the time, there is less mayhem in the streets and there is more economic activity.

"What we badly need is a prolonged run of the Northern Ireland assembly working as a parliamentary legislature and the executive working in the form of a government."

He warned against any attempts by elements within Mr Trimble's party to set an ongoing process linked to paramilitary arms decommissioning.

"If they do that, it will entirely unhelpful and bring nothing by grief to everybody. We need to move on now, without pre-conditions."