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N. Ireland parties reach devolution deal

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N. Ireland parties reach devolution deal

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Northern Ireland’s rival main parties have agreed a deal to devolve police and justice powers to the province. It ends a lengthy row that had threatened to topple their power-sharing government.

The mainy Protestant Democratic Unionist Party and the predominantly Roman Catholic Sinn Fein reached the deal after talks that went on late into last night. The terms of the agreement are set to be announced later today.

The move will be seen as an important step forward in the consolidation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which has brought relative peace to Northern Ireland after three decades of sectarian violence that cost 3,600 lives.

Talks had stalled over questions of timing and the monitoring of parades, a long-standing Protestant tradition.

Failure to reach agreement would almost certaintly have triggered a snap election.