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Ultimatum for Stormont over police devolution

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Ultimatum for Stormont over police devolution

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Marathon talks in Northern Ireland to save the power-sharing government in Belfast have ended with an ultimatum from Dublin and London — to come to an agreement in 48 hours, or Britain and Ireland will publish their own proposals.

It came after almost three days of virtually non-stop talks on transferring control of policing and the justice system from London to Belfast.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen and his British counterpart Gordon Brown have been at the negotiations since Monday.

Brown said afterwards: “We have looked at the dates for devolution of policing and justice. We believe together it is feasible for a cross-community vote at the beginning of March, to be achieved at the beginning of May.”

Devolving police and justice powers to Stormont remains the last hurdle in the way of fully implementing the Good Friday agreement.

A deal would mean a justice minister in Northern Ireland, one of the biggest changes since the 1998 peace deal.