Northern Ireland Assembly: Suspended for the last time?

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Dr John Reid has pushed the reset button on the Northern Ireland Assembly for what he has said is the last time.

Speaking on BBC’s Breakfast with Frost on Sunday, Dr Reid warned the protagonists that this temporary respite must not be squandered again: “What I have done is extend the time during which we may have a breathing space and I would hope that no-one, inside or outside Northern Ireland, will underestimate the serious position that we are now in.”

Dr Reid emphasised that a window of opportunity presented itself rarely and if missed the peace process could be set back years. He again called on the IRA to decommission - a step they had said they were prepared to take.

Announcing the suspension of devolved government in Northern Ireland of Friday evening, Dr Reid said: “When I restored the institutions on 11 August my hope was that early progress would be possible to secure the full implementation of all the outstanding issues under the Good Friday Agreement.

“I did not at that point believe that it would be right to contemplate a further short suspension, now if those issues remained unresolved. In the past six weeks, however, circumstances have changed”.

He said three things had changes during the period: the deadlock on policing had been broken; that the IRA had announced intensification of engagement with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning; and that the terrorist attack on the United States had “inevitably overshadowed everything”.

Dr Reid emphasised that the choice had to be made between democracy and terror – a choice that left no room for ambiguity. The attack served to remind everyone the unbearable consequences of “wrong choices”.

Dr Reid later met with the Irish Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen, to consider the next steps in the review required under the Northern Ireland Act 2000 so that devolved institutions could be restored.

However, Northern Ireland politicians hit out at the suspension of the assembly, which they said called into question the institutions’ credibility. (SP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 June 2005
The 2005 Birthday Honours List for Northern Ireland
The full list of recipients of honours in the 2005 Birthday Honours list for Northern Ireland is as follows: Knighthood: Mr Hugh Orde OBE, Chief Constable, Police Service of Northern Ireland - for services to Northern Ireland. CBE: Mr Robert David Stewart Campbell, Belfast - For Political and public service.
20 February 2007
Northern Ireland goes to Washington
Washington DC is to experience Northern Ireland’s arts and culture during a four month programme to promote arts, business, education, food and tourism.

 Around 250 local people will be in Washington taking part in the Rediscover Northern Ireland programme and the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival.
29 May 2012
Access To Republic Of Ireland Digital TV Channels Confirmed For Northern Ireland
TV viewers in Northern Ireland will be able to watch TG4 and RTÉ One and Two on Freeview following digital TV switchover, the UK Government confirmed today.
17 August 2001
Policing plan for Northern Ireland is announced
Secretary of State Dr John Reid announced the updated policing plan for Northern Ireland on Friday.
04 April 2008
Screen Skills Talent Sought
A joint Northern Ireland TV and film training programme - Skills Focus, the UTV and Northern Ireland Screen training programme, is now open for applications following a successful launch last year. The initiative gives five trainees the opportunity to gain experience in either production or technical skills during a four-month placement at UTV.
08 February 2007
Chief Constable 'appointed on merit'
During a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board yesterday, members discussed the advertisement published by the SDLP in the Irish News on January 26 2007, regarding the appointment of the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, in 2002.
10 August 2001
Temporary suspension of Assembly gives peace process more time
Despite intensive efforts to break the political deadlock Northern Ireland's devolved government is to be suspended as of midnight on Friday. Northern Ireland Secretary of State Dr John Reid said on Friday afternoon that he was choosing the option of suspending the assembly because it would cause the least amount of damage to the peace process.
22 September 2006
NI tourist board target golfers
To coincide with the Ryder Cup at the K Club in County Kildare, Tourism Minister, Maria Eagle, has launched a new ‘Golf Northern Ireland’ brochure in a bid to entice participants to visit some of Northern Ireland's top golf courses.
24 October 2002
Murphy returns to province as Blair reshuffles Cabinet
A Cabinet reshuffle in the Labour government has seen Welsh Secretary of State Paul Murphy brought in to take over the reins in Northern Ireland. The current NI Secretary of State, Dr John Reid, moves on to become Labour Party Chairman.
24 October 2002
Murphy appointment broadly welcomed in NI
Following Dr Reid's departure to take over as chairman of the Labour Party, Northern Ireland's political parties broadly welcomed the announcement that Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is the new incumbent at Hillsborough Castle.
03 October 2002
Republicans urged to 'complete journey' to democracy
In his speech to the Labour Party Conference this afternoon, the Northern Ireland Secretaryof State, Dr John Reid made a plea to republicans to "complete your journey to democracy" and put an end to violence.
23 May 2002
New agency tightens grip on organised crime
New plans to clamp down on the network of organised crime in Northern Ireland have been announced today by the Secretary of State Dr John Reid.
13 February 2002
Reid tells Americans 'Northern Ireland people understand'
The Secretary of State John Reid has told the Americans that the people of Northern Ireland understand how they feel in the face of the threat of terrorism.
22 November 2001
Reid warns against Protestant isolation in Northern Ireland
In a speech to students in England the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said that Protestants must not feel rejected as a result of the developing peace process in the province.
03 October 2001
Reid announces new legislation on sectarianism
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Dr John Reid has announced that new legislation will be introduced to criminalize sectarianism. Dr Reid made the announcement as part of his closing speech to delegates attending the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.