02/10/2008

North-South Summit In Doubt As NI Executive Fails To Meet

The DUP and Sinn Fein are still at loggerheads over the timescale of the devolution of policing and justice, with the latter refusing to attend 'Cabinet' meetings until the matter is resolved.

A North-South Ministerial Council meeting scheduled for Friday is now also in doubt too.

While the top politicians Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness sat side-by-side on Wednesday afternoon at a Stormont Committee meeting, where both reaffirmed their commitment to make the Executive work, Mr McGuinness said it was still "highly unlikely" today's stalled NI Executive would happen - even though it is now three and a half months since it last met.

Earlier, Mr Robinson had offered an 'open agenda' for an Executive meeting where all issues would be up for discussion.
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But, Sinn Féin is insisting on prior "agreement between the First and Deputy First Minister on what papers should go forward" before any long-awaited and now (again) postponed NI Executive meeting can take place.

Ironically, the First and Deputy First Ministers said yesterday "they will work to break the current stalemate" at Stormont, with Mr McGuinness insisting he was not going to give up on finding a solution.

"This is not something that we are going to fall out about," he told Committee members.

"I do not think the First Minister and myself are 'huffers'" - we are not going to go into a corner and give up on the process," he said, but there are now also doubts over whether or not the planned North-South Ministerial Council meeting, which was supposed to go ahead on Friday will take place.

First Minister Peter Robinson said he wanted all of the Stormont institutions to work properly.

"I think that it would be unfortunate if we were to be stalling the work of any of the institutions," he said.

(BMcC)

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