Blair urged to go
It is thought that growing pressure on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign could undermine his ability to continue the current phase of the peace process.
Following Thursday's very poor local election results for the Labour Party, there was some speculation in London that Blair, who has previously said that he would resign before the next British general election in three years time, might leave office as early as this summer.
In a poll to be published onj Tuesday, lacking for Labour has tumbled by six points since early April to just 30 per cent, the party's worst performance in any survey since 1992. It remains even lower than support in the US for President George Bush, currently at 31%.
Several senior sources questioned whether Blair's expected successor, Gordon Brown, would display the same enthusiasm for engagement with the northern political parties and the Dublin government.
Blair faces growing calls from within his own party to go, after Labour lost more than 250 local authority seats in the English elections to David Cameron's Tory Party.
While Labour's support held up in the north of England, many were lost in the traditionally better-off southeast. The election saw breakthroughs for George Galloway's left-wing Respect party and the ultra-right British National Party.
Blair's critics, mostly from the left of the Labour Party, insisted he should resign now to allow Gordon Brown three or four years as prime minister before the next general election. It is though Brown has little interest in the British-Irish conflict or the peace process.
Meanwhile, the nationalist SDLP has strongly criticised the British government after it refused to reveal details of reported "side deals" with Paisley's party.
A request by the SDLP under the Freedom of Information Act for the publication of information on more than 100 deals and understandings during talks on reviving devolution in the North in 2004 was turned down.
The reason given was that this could prejudice the "UK's relationship with the Irish government" and damage the political process.
The SDLP made the application in March after DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson claimed over a hundred concessions had been secured from the Blair adminstration.
Following the British government's refusal to release the information, SDLP negotiator Sean Farren said his party would appeal against the decision because the political process was dealing with the after effects of the 'Comprehensive Agreement', which failed after Paisley demands for the humilitation of the Provisional IRA.
"A shadow assembly is now being put in place because this was agreed by the DUP with Sinn Féin in the Comprehensive Agreement," he said.