‘Hard going’ in NI talks

By politics.co.uk staff

Last-ditch talks are continuing in Northern Ireland as the final efforts to rescue powersharing drag on.

Gordon Brown, who put back Cabinet by two days until Thursday to stay overnight in Belfast, met with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen this morning, following further meetings with the Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) leaders Gerry Adams and Peter Robinson.

Deadlock over the devolution of policing and justice issues, together with a dispute over the management of contentious parades, has not been resolved after the negotiations began yesterday at Hillsborough Castle.

“The talks continued well into the early hours of the morning,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They were hard going, but parties have engaged in good faith and there was frank discussion across a range of issues. The prime minister and taoiseach remain determined that progress can be made.”

Sinn Fein has indicated their patience may be running out, however. If Mr Adams asks deputy first minister Martin McGuinness to resign, Mr Robinson will have to step down as first minister because of the linked nature of their roles.

This lunchtime Mr Robinson said: “I can’t say that there is going to be a deal, we are going to sit at the table until we get the deal.”