There is a fresh bid today to restore devolution in Northern Ireland as the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists basked in their latest election victory.
As Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy prepared to resume the review of the Good Friday Agreement at Stormont, DUP candidate Jim Allister topped the poll in the North's European election with 32% of the vote.
Sinn Féin also emerged stronger from the election, with former Stormont Health Minister Bairbre de Brun capturing her party’s first European Parliament seat in the North.
The party also celebrated electoral success in the Republic, where Mary Lou McDonald won a European Parliament seat in Dublin and the party won more local council seats.
David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists captured the third and final seat in Northern Ireland, edging out the SDLP’s Martin Morgan.
However, the UUP saw their candidate Jim Nicholson’s vote significantly down on its Assembly election performance last November, dropping by 6%.
The Irish and British governments now have two to three weeks to try and secure a deal before the summer marching season in Northern Ireland.
Devolution has been suspended in Northern Ireland since October 2002.
Republicans are facing demands for the winding down of the IRA and total decommissioning.
Sinn Féin insists if there is to be political progress, the Irish and British governments must also honour pledges in the agreement and during recent talks processes.
However, a measure of the difficult task facing Northern Ireland’s parties could be seen in Jim Allister’s acceptance speech.
In a clear message to the Government, the DUP MEP said: “Listen up Mr Blair: we’re not going to settle for devolution with terror.
“We demand and we will have, devolution without terror.”
Turning to Sinn Féin, he also added: “You will never again enter an executive while you are allied to terror.
“The days of pushover unionism have gone.”