BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Good Friday review 'this month'

Good Friday review 'this month'

The review of the Good Friday Agreement could begin on 29 January.

The target date emerged during talks in Dublin on Thursday between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Alliance leader David Ford, the BBC has learnt.

The review could run until at least Easter but is likely to be interrupted by campaigning for the European elections in June.

NI Secretary Paul Murphy and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen are set to meet this month to finalise the plans.

The devolved administration at Stormont was suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.

The review would involve all the Northern Ireland Assembly parties.

Alliance leader David Ford said after his meeting with Mr Ahern that the UK and Irish Governments appeared to be looking at a review which could last several months.

They [the UK and Irish Governments] are adamant that the review will not be long and open-ended

Alliance leader David Ford
"The target appears to be two or three months," Mr Ford said.

"However there is a recognition that given the amount of work which will have to be done it could take longer."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had called for a "short, sharp, focused" process lasting one month.

The SDLP had also pressed for a limited, short review, but the DUP, now the largest party in the province, wants radical changes to the Agreement.

The Ulster Unionists wants a brief review focusing solely on the problem of paramilitaries.

The cross-community Alliance Party published its proposals for the review of the Good Friday Agreement on Wednesday.

'No radical changes'

It called for a change to the way devolved governments are established in Northern Ireland.

It wants a voluntary coalition similar to the ones operating in Scotland and Wales.

This would be accountable to the Assembly, instead of the inclusive power-sharing executive involving unionist and nationalist parties.

Mr Ahern told the BBC last week both the British and Irish Governments had made it clear the Agreement could be reviewed, but they were not prepared to make fundamental changes to it.

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