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Northern Ireland legislature returns from three-year suspension

[JURIST] The Northern Ireland Assembly [official website] convened for the first time in more than three years Monday but adjourned after only an hour. The 108 members observed a moment of silence for a Catholic teenager clubbed to death by a Protestant gang [BBC report] and signed registration books declaring their affiliation as Protestant, Catholic or "other." The presiding officer read aloud a letter [PDF] from UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain [official website] urging members to move forward with a new power-sharing arrangement.

A vote to form a Catholic-Protestant government, mandated by the Good Friday peace accord [full text; BBC timeline] eight years ago, is scheduled for May 22. The assembly has been suspended since the previous administration broke down during an Irish Republican Army spying scandal in October 2002. The British government will dissolve the body [Northern Ireland office statement] if both sides can't reach an agreement by Nov. 24, Hain said Monday. AP has more.

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