Irish referendums set for late May

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AT LAST NIGHT'S Anglo-Irish conference in Dublin it emerged that Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has now moved towards the Republic's target date of late May for holding simultaneous referendums on a political settlement, writes Alan Murdoch.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, told the Dail on Tuesday that late May would be "more realistic" than the preferred British date of 8 May. Northern Ireland Office minister Adam Ingram last night accepted the date had to recognise Ireland's constitutional provision for 30 days' notice of the terms of a referendum. And Ms Mowlam said the governments were still aiming for a May date as it would not be a "sensible arrangement" to have a "crossing over with the parades".