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    Britain's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire speaks to media outside Stormont House in Belfast, Northern Ireland January 11, 2017

    N Ireland Election Must Avoid Increasing Divisions - UK Secretary of State

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    The upcoming Northern Ireland elections has to be held with respect to preserve the country’s political institutions.

    BELFAST (Sputnik) — The upcoming election in Northern Ireland has to be conducted respectfully to preserve the country’s political institutions and avoid increasing old divisions, UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

    "This election is about the future of Northern Ireland and its political institutions … That is why it will be vital for the campaign to be conducted respectfully and in ways that do not simply exacerbate tensions and division," Brokenshire said.

    On Monday, Brokenshire announced the Northern Ireland Assembly would be dissolved on January 26 and a snap election would be held on March 2.

    Brokenshire stressed that Northern Ireland must quickly return to a devolved government that is not directly controlled by Westminster.

    If the leading parties fail to reform an executive within three weeks of the election, another vote must be held or the country could face returning to direct rule by Westminster.

    The current political crisis, sparked last week by the resignation of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has highlighted tensions between his Sinn Fein party and the ruling Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

    The DUP has accused Sinn Fein of prioritizing politics over stability and budget matters, while Sinn Fein claims the DUP is failing to uphold equal rights commitments under the 1998 Belfast peace accord.

    Related:

    N Ireland Set for Snap Elections Amid Sinn Fein Fails to Nominate Replacement
    Sinn Fein to Seek Extra $2.4Bln for N Ireland after UK General Elections
    Reunification of Ireland Could Be Three Elections Away
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    political, elections, James Brokenshire, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland
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