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Northern Ireland

Clinton urges rival leaders to cooperate

October 13, 2009|Times Wire Reports

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the rival leaders of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government to keep making their awkward coalition work for the sake of lasting peace.

In an address to the Northern Ireland Assembly, with Irish republican Catholics to her left and British loyalist Protestants to her right, Clinton said they should take the next critical step in cooperation -- running the police and justice system together -- as the best way to defeat Irish Republican Army dissidents still plotting bloodshed. Protestant leaders are blocking the move.

Clinton told a hushed, packed chamber in the Stormont parliamentary building that IRA dissidents were "looking to seize any opportunity to undermine the process and destabilize this government. Now they are watching this assembly for signs of uncertainty or internal disagreement."

"They want to derail your confidence. And though they are small in number, their thuggish tactics and destructive ambitions threaten the security of every family in Northern Ireland," she said. "Moving ahead together with the process will leave them stranded on the wrong side of history."

Almost all of the 108 members of the assembly applauded Clinton's address. But a few backbenchers from the major Protestant-backed party, the Democratic Unionists, folded their arms instead.

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