28/01/2010

Justice Talks Enter Crucial 48-Hours

Northern Ireland's political leaders have until tomorrow to present their plans for devolved policing and justice to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Failure by the DUP and Sinn Fein to reach an agreement, or at least a compromise, before Friday will see the British and Irish governments publish their own proposals for a way forward.

Continued wrangling over the transfer of judiciary powers between the two largest parties has threatened to collapse the Stormont power-sharing administration.

Mr Brown, and Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen, left Hillsborough Castle yesterday without brokering a deal, despite two days of intense negotiations.

The premiers issued a joint statement before exiting the province.

"Progress has been made inch by inch, slowly but surely," the men said.

"Having talked to all the leaders of Northern Ireland's political parties, we brought forward proposals that we believe set clear parameters for a pathway to an agreement."
News Image
Messrs Brown and Cowen said they believe it is "practicable to set a date in early March for the cross-community vote and the beginning of May for the transfer of powers".

The statement added: "We look forward to receiving an update on progress from the first minister and deputy first minister on Friday."

Today, Secretary of State Shaun Woodwards and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin will chair further cross-party talks.

Parading has proved a major sticking point for both sides. The DUP has called for the dissolutions of the Parades Commission, which adjudicates on contentious Orange Order marches.

Sinn Fein wishes to retain the status quo, having accused the DUP leadership of bowing to unionist hardliners.

Republicans could still take the 'nuclear' options of pulling Martin McGuiness from the office of the First and Deputy First Minister, forcing Peter Robinson to resign.

If either party failed to renominate ministers within seven days the Belfast Assembly's powers would revert to London.

Under direct rule the Secretary of State would control all Northern Ireland matters. An early Stormont election would be called within weeks.

(PR/BMcC)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

15 August 2019
Local Culinary Delights To Be Showcased To The World
The finest selection of local food and drink produce is to be celebrated over the coming months as part of Tourism NI's 'Taste the Island' campaign. Over 150 experiences feature in the programme for September, October and November that aims to shine a spotlight on the superb culinary experiences available in Northern Ireland.
29 January 2010
Clock Ticking On Justice Talks
Northern Ireland's politicians have until this afternoon to broker a compromise on the contentious devolution of policing and justice powers to the Belfast Assembly. Gordon Brown is en route to the province and poised to publish his joint proposals with the Irish government on the matter if agreement is not reached.
18 October 2010
Politicians Help 'Kick Hate Into Touch'
An innovative campaign, the 'Unite Against Hate' sporting weekend has been launched. Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and his Junior Minister Gerry Kelly (pictured) joined forces to support the campaign which highlights all forms of hate crime and challenges people here to unite to stop it.
20 June 2013
Conference Announced To Promote Jobs In NI
First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA have announced a major Investment Conference on 10 and 11 October 2013 to promote jobs and growth in Northern Ireland.
05 August 2013
Environment Minister Must Consider National Park - Lo
Alliance Environment spokesperson Anna Lo has called for newly-appointed Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to consider the option of establishing a national park in Northern Ireland. "I was very disappointed by the efforts of the former Environment Minister Alex Attwood to the establishment of a national park in Northern Ireland," Ms Lo said.