Ireland Vote Tests Peace Agreement

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Rejectionists are taking their second shot at Northern Ireland's peace agreement today after having failed to stop it in May's referendum. Dissident Republicans signaled their intentions yesterday by detonating a car bomb near a police station in Newtownhamilton, but anti-agreement Unionists are relying on the ballot rather than the bullet. Protestant hardliners led by Reverend Ian Paisley hope they can win enough seats in today's election for the new Northern Ireland Assembly to gum up the works. "They say they're out to defend the Union," says TIME London bureau chief Barry Hillenbrand. "But that's just a coded way of saying they're going in to try and put a stop to all of this and maintain direct rule from London. So while assembly elections are supposed to be about the real local issues, it's still a campaign between the referendum 'yes' and 'no' votes." From the point of view of stopping Paisley's subversion plan, that may not be a bad thing.