Bilateral talks held over peace process logjam

The Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen and Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy are in Dublin this morning for a session of talks which will focus on the problems in the peace process.

The talks will take stock of efforts to reinstate the power-sharing institutions ahead of a roundtable session involving all the pro-agreement parties in Belfast tomorrow. The two governments will also assess where the north's political parties are in terms of restoring devolution, so that an agenda can be presented for each to consider.

The British and Irish governments will further seek to clarify the status of the cross-border institutions during the current suspension.

Unionists have voiced their opposition to moves allowing north-south bodies to continue operating independently of the devolved – and suspended – Northern Irish administration.

Northern Ireland's political institutions were suspended on October 14 following a row over an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont and the NIO.

Paul Murphy and Brian Cowen will be joined at the Dublin meeting by the Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy and the Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

They will also review the security situation and the threat posed by dissident loyalist and republican paramilitaries.


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