29/04/2003

NI political parties begin election campaigns

Northern Ireland's political parties have begun campaigning ahead of next month's assembly elections at the end of May.

Notice of the elections was published in Northern Ireland newspapers on Tuesday. However, lingering doubts remain on whether the polls will still take place because there has been no agreement on a return to power-sharing.

The first party to unveil its manifesto was the DUP. Under the banner 'Its time for a fair deal’, DUP deputy leader and the party's director of elections, Peter Robinson said that election day would be the day "for ordinary decent people to have their say".

"The same people who have been ignored and dismissed for five long years will have their day of power and influence," he said.

"It will be the day for democracy to triumph. It is the chance for unionists to vote to end the concessions to the IRA; to end the alienation of unionism; to end the Belfast Agreement and obtain a fair deal."

The first party election broadcast for the assembly elections was screened on Monday, with an address by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble. This was followed by the SDLP's first ever party political broadcast.

Gerry Adams, meanwhile, has already been on the campaign trail for Sinn Fein, with the party's leader speaking at constituency events for its candidates.

(MB)

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