Time running out on N.Ireland negotiations

By politics.co.uk staff

Negotiations on the final stages of devolution to Northern Ireland continue today, as the deadline set yesterday comes ever closer.

Gordon Brown and his Irish counterpart, Brian Cowen, emerged from a marathon two day negotiating session with a Friday deadline for the regions two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, to reach a deal.

The two men insisted progress had been made “inch by inch, slowly but surely”.

Today’s negotiations will be led by secretary of state Shaun Woodward and Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin.

Should the two sides fail to secure a deal by Friday, the British and Irish governments will publish their own proposals for policing and justice.

The main sticking point remains the parades, with Sinn Fein saying the DUP had made the Parades Commission’s abolition a “pre-condition” of a deal.

There are also questions over the timetable of the handover of powers.