21/02/2006

All party talks at Stormont fail

An attempt by the British and Irish governments to hold all party, round table talks at Stormont this afternoon have failed.

The plan was to have all parties without Sinn Fein on one day, and on the second day Sinn Fein would replace the DUP.

However, the move collapsed after DUP and UUP delegates refused to sit down with Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has also rejected the plan, accusing the government of "pandering to the DUP", said that the plan to hold separate meetings was "totally unacceptable."

This followed yesterday's meetings at Stormont between Secretary of State, Peter Hain, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and local parties, which were aimed at coming up with a solution to end the political deadlock.

After yesterday's discussions, Peter Hain imposed a March 8 deadline for all parties to agree amendments to new legislation on the assembly and other issues.

This leaves parties with less than a month to agree to new legislation on the Northern Ireland assembly and other matters.

Last week, Peter Hain introduced a new bill aimed at lending momentum to the political process, and enabling him to transfer policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland politicians.

(EF/SP)

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