The British and Irish prime ministers are chairing a second day of crisis talks to try to save Northern Ireland’s fragile power-sharing government.
Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen arrived in Belfast unexpectedly yesterday to personally oversee efforts to resolve a row between rival parties. Their intervention suggests the political situation in Northern Ireland is close to breaking point.
Gerry Adams’ Sinn Fein is at loggerheads with its partner in power, the DUP, over the transfer of police and justice powers to Belfast from London.
Sinn Fein wants this to happen as soon as possible, accusing Peter Robinson’s party of trying to delay, something Democratic Unionists deny.
Robinson says the talks have made some progress.
“All of us believe it is essential for the good of the people of Northern Ireland that we have an era where we can share a future together,” said Robinson, the leader of the DUP.
“We want to see a positive outcome. We recognise that there are unresolved issues, that it is a challenge to all the political parties to attempt to reach agreement.”
The parties also disagree over the future of the body that oversees the province’s Orange Order Protestant marches.
The situation is complicated further as Peter Robinson has temporarily stood aside as Northern Ireland’s First Minister amid a sex and finance scandal involving his wife.