Premiers meet with NI political parties

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, are meeting with Northern Ireland's political parties today in a bid to reaffirm the November 24 deadline on power-sharing.

The meeting is an attempt to encourage politicians to reach agreement on reinstating an all-party power-sharing assembly.

Earlier in the week it was said that the two prime ministers were expected to outline a rough timetable of progress for parties to meet the devolution deadline.

After the meeting, the DUP said that their meeting had been "relaxed" and no mention had been made of an alternative plan to run Northern Ireland.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said that they had urged the leaders to instruct the assembly to meet and added that if negotiations are to begin in the autumn then it will be difficult to move onto the next stage unless the parties sit down together and debate and negotiate the issues.

Speaking before his meeting with the premiers, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said that there was no point in Mr Blair and Mr Ahern just visiting the province, and added that they "have to come here as part of a continuum, as part of a process to bring about change."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "The Taoiseach and the prime minister shouldn't have to be here today trying to make sense out of a lot of the nonsense that is coming from some of the parties.

"I hope the two premiers are clear in their message today that they want to see the parties here get on with it, because that is what the public want to see."

Northern Ireland politicians resumed their seats on the Assembly for the first time after it was suspended in October 2002 over allegations that a republican spy ring was in place.

This was later dismissed in court.

However, direct rule from London was restored and has been in place ever since.

The party's have met several times since it was reinstated in an attempt to elect a First and Deputy First Minister, each time failing to do so.

Since then, a Preparation for Government Committee has been formed, but progress has been slow.

The Assembly is expected to continue until August, with talks resuming in Autumn.

Earlier today, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern met a cross-community delegation of around 30 students from nine schools in Ballymena.

This was in response to the sectarian murder of 15-year-old schoolboy Michael McIlveen, who was beaten to death in the town in May.


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

27 February 2020
Meet The NI Couple Transforming The Funeral Industry
A L'Derry couple has set out to transform the funeral industry by thinking outside the box. The death industry as it's cheerily known is not the most obviously appealing when it comes to career pathways, but 'death care tech' hopes to bring the age old sector right into the 21st century.
13 January 2020
Minister Swann To Meet Health Unions
Stormont's new health minister Robin Swann is to meet trade unions over the ongoing strike action. Ulster Unionist minister Robin Swann has pledged to solve the pay dispute "right away". Nurses and healthcare workers have been engaged in industrial action over staffing shortages and a lack of pay parity in recent weeks.
26 November 2021
Storm Arwen: Yellow Warning Issued For High Winds
A yellow weather warning for wind has been issued across Northern Ireland as the first named storm of the season, Storm Arwen, hits the UK. The Met Office has warned of very strong winds, with gusts up to 60mph/100km/h in exposed areas. The weather warning came into effect at 9am this morning and remains in place until 6pm on Saturday.
12 March 2020
Coronavirus: BCC To Hold Special Meeting
Belfast City councillors are to convene in a special meeting to assess the growing threat of coronavirus. It comes after it emerged that protection measures are to be stepped up in the Republic of Ireland, with all schools, colleges and childcare facilities to close. A total of 20 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
31 January 2005
Prime Minister and Taoiseach meet to discuss way ahead
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the way ahead in the Northern Ireland peace process. The meeting follows separate discussions by both premiers with Sinn Fein and other political parties last week.