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26 Mar 07. May date for return to devolution. Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams at the Stormont news conference. A May date for the return of NI devolved government has been agreed following an historic meeting between the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein. Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, sitting side by side at a news conference in Stormont on Monday, confirmed that power-sharing would begin on 8 May. The DUP leader had dropped his long standing ban on talking to Sinn Fein. The British and Irish governments had said they would shut the assembly if an executive was not agreed on Monday. The Stormont Assembly was due to meet at noon to appoint ministers to a devolved government. Instead, the two party delegations met at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Mr Adams – wearing his Easter lily to commemorate those who died in the 1916 rebellion – and Mr Paisley were said to be juxtaposed at one corner of a table. After the meeting, Mr Paisley said: “Our goal has been to see devolution returned in a context where it can make a real, meaningful improvement in the lives of all the people of this part of the United Kingdom. “On Saturday, the DUP executive overwhelmingly endorsed a motion committing our party to support and participate fully in government in May of this year – this is a binding resolution.” Earlier on Monday, Secretary of State Peter Hain said Northern Ireland’s devolution deadline may be allowed “to slip” for a few weeks if the parties agree to work together. He said the assembly would be dissolved if agreement was not reached by 26 March. An order signed by the NI secretary restarted devolution at midnight. The DUP has said it will enter government with Sinn Fein, but not until May. Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of trying to “frustrate the will of the electorate”. Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Mr Paisley was putting Mr Adams into a strong negotiating position. “What is happening here is that Ian Paisley is preparing – and the trajectory of where he is going is quite clear – he is going into power with Sinn Fein,” he said. The SDLP said Mr Hain had “caved in to the DUP”. In the assembly election earlier this month, the DUP and Sinn Fein emerged as the two largest parties. If devolution does not return, controversial water bills will also be posted to homes in Northern Ireland within days, said the government. Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised an extra £1bn if devolution is back on Monday on top of £35bn promised by the government over four years. If a power-sharing executive is formed, it will have four DUP ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP. The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont. A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place since that date. (Source: BBC)

25 Mar 07. ‘Poison gas’ test on Underground. Tube services will run as normal. Tests are being held to see how toxic gas would spread if it was used by terrorists on London’s Tube. The trial is taking place at St John’s Wood station on the Jubilee line, which will operate as normal. Harmless sulphur hexafluoride was released and then equipment checked as the gas drifted around the building. The one-day trial will be repeated next Sunday. The results will be analysed by scientists at a Ministry of Defence laboratory. The release of sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system in 1995 killed 12 people and injured nearly 6,000. The St John’s Wood trials were announced earlier this month by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander who stressed the tests were not a reaction to any threat increase or a measure to enhance security at Tube stations. The experiment follows trials of passenger screening technology at Paddington station in west London in January last year. There were further trials at Canary Wharf and Greenford Tube stations. Trials also took place last August to test the practicalities of deploying portable vehicle access control barriers at major entry poi

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