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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belfast Coalition Suspended

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Britain will strip power from local Catholic and Protestant politicians Monday night and resume sole responsibility for running Northern Ireland, the British governor announced.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said the order to suspend the authority of Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration and legislature would take effect at midnight and last indefinitely.

The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, said they were "deeply saddened" by the move. But in a joint statement the premiers said it would prevent the collapse of the coalition, which has taken years of negotiations to forge and sustain.

"It is our sincere wish that the Northern Ireland institutions be restored as soon as possible," said Blair and Ahern, whose close cooperation paved the way for the province's Good Friday peace pact of 1998.

Britain has successfully shut down and revived the Catholic-Protestant administration before. But analysts predict this crisis will be the toughest yet to resolve because of rising Protestant hostility to sharing power with Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party that has grown increasingly popular among Catholics, thanks to the peace process.

However, many people on both sides of this still-divided community remain confident that the political crisis won't trigger widespread bloodshed by Northern Ireland's myriad armed groups.