It is a crucial day for Northern Ireland, with a plan for restoring self-government at stake. But, as the Stormont assembly convenes this morning, feuding political parties remain deadlocked over core issues. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party and its arch-enemy Sinn Fein must indicate who they would nominate to the two leading posts if self-rule resumes next year. Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is likely to become deputy first minister following any deal with Ian Paisley himself taking the top job. But a key stumbling block is the issue of policing.
Sinn Fein, which favours a united Ireland and is a political ally of the IRA, wants a definite date for police powers to be devolved from London to Belfast. But the DUP, which wants Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, is demanding to see proof of Sinn Fein’s commitment to law and order before any date is set.