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Euro election counting to resume in Northern Ireland

Counting in the European election will resume in Northern Ireland later today with officials facing heavy criticism over the length of time the process has taken.

One MP branded yesterday's 15-hour plus count a "disgrace and a complete shambles" after it was suspended close to 1am this morning with only one of three candidates having been declared elected.

Nigel Dodds, who is North Belfast MP and DUP deputy leader, was scathing of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, which was also criticised after delays plagued the 2011 Assembly election count.

"I think it is a disgrace that once again the Electoral Office has operated things here at a count which has made Northern Ireland look a complete shambles in terms of counting votes," he said.

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Recipients of 'on the run' letters 'linked to 200 deaths'

Ninety-five recipients of 'comfort letters' from the British government are linked to 200 terrorists murders, a senior Northern Irish police officer has said.

The Labour government sent 190 letters to on-the-run suspects saying they were no longer under investigation by the British authorities.

Drew Harris, the assistant chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), also said five of those who received letters were now under active police investigation.

He said it was "not clear" whether new evidence against the five suspects would cancel out the assurances they had been given in the original letters.

Read: Bombing suspect will not face trial after police error

Northern Ireland Assembly rejects gay marriage motion

A proposal to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland has been rejected by the Assembly.

Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the UK since March. Credit: PA

Members of the Assembly voted 51 to 43 against the Sinn Fein motion, the third time the matter has been brought to a vote.

The Democratic Unionists tabled a contentious voting mechanism ahead of the debate, meaning the motion could only pass if a majority of both unionists and nationalists supported it.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without marriage rights and Amnesty International has warned there could be a legal challenge.

Crossan shot 'several times' as he sat in Belfast office

Police have confirmed dissident republican Tommy Crossan was shot several times while he sat in an office yesterday.

The 43-year-old father-of-six, who was a former senior member of the Continuity IRA (CIRA).

Crossan, who also had five grandchildren, was gunned down at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses yesterday afternoon.

Police also wanted information about a red BMW, registration OEZ 9177, which is believed to be linked to the murder. It was found burned out a short time later in the Beechmount Grove area of Belfast, he said.

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McGuinness: 'Dialogue not destruction is the way forward'

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness condemned the fatal shooting of Tommy Crossan, saying:

The people behind this killing are criminals and will further no cause through this shooting. Whoever carried out this act has nothing to offer the community and have no role to play in our future.

Dialogue not destruction is the way forward and while there may be a small minority of people who are trying to promote division and heighten tensions, let's be very clear, they will fail.The peace process is rock solid and all right thinking people across the community oppose and reject the actions of the people behind this murder.

Robinson: 'Minority will not drag NI back to the dark days'

After the death of hardline republican Tommy Crossan, First Minister Peter Robinson said:

The small minority of people who want to continue terrorising the community need to understand that they will not be allowed to drag Northern Ireland back to the dark days of the past. They must be hunted down and brought to justice.

Sinn Fein member condemns 'senseless' shooting

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann has said that those behind the killing of former Continuity IRA figure Tommy Crossan had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.

She said: "They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity. There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann Credit: PA

Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses.

Ms McCann added: "It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.

"This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away."

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