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Devolution not dissolution: Northern Ireland parties to have historic meeting

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Devolution not dissolution: Northern Ireland parties to have historic meeting

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The British government is standing by today’s deadline for a deal on power-sharing in Northern Ireland. The province’s Assembly will be dissolved and direct rule from London reinstated unless the main parties involved can agree on a formula by tonight. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have said “yes” in principle to power sharing but asked for a postponement until May.

Speaking yesterday, the UK’s Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain said the solution lies with the politicians involved: “If the parties come back jointly, especially Sinn Fein and DUP, and tell me before the end of tomorrow (Monday), that they’ve got another way of doing it, and it’s cast iron, obviously I’ll have to look at it, because I don’t want to stop this process for its own sake.”

Hopes for a breakthrough are focussing the fact that Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will have a historic meeting at a policy committee session later today.

Analysts say such an encounter would be taken as a serious indication of commitment to the new executive.