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BLAIR CALLS IRISH 'DESPERATE' FOR PEACE

The ordinary Protestant and Catholic citizens of Northern Ireland are "desperate" for their politicians to put Belfast's peace accord into action, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday after meeting with all major parties.

Blair traveled on to Dublin, where today he will become the first British leader to address the Irish Republic's parliament since the country won independence from Britain in 1922.

That hopeful encounter is being overshadowed, however, by the profound difficulties hobbling the formation of a new compromise government for Northern Ireland, the intended cornerstone of the accord struck by eight parties in April.

Blair emphasized his sense of frustration after the all-day talks at Stormont, the center of British administration in Northern Ireland and venue for the still-unformed local government, which is supposed to take over many powers in February.

He pledged "to keep the momentum going forward, because I know the people out there are just desperate for this thing to work."

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