Power-sharing crisis averted

A potential political crisis in the North has been averted after Sinn Féin agreed to resume power-sharing alongside the Democratic Unionist Party tomorrow ahead of talks in London on Friday.

A dispute over the devolution of policing and justice responsibilities and other issues has not been resolved.

DUP leader Peter Robinson will become First Minister alongside Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness. There had been doubts about whether the nominations could proceed tomorrow amid lack of progress on the implementation of the St Andrew’s Agreement.

Both parties held preliminary talks earlier this week with the Prime Minister in London. The move averts the possibility of fresh Assembly elections.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “I am very pleased to say that I will be nominating Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.

“The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister is a joint and co-equal office.

“Those two are in that office can only fulfil their responsibilities if they are mindful of that fact.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said tonight he had invited Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness to talks at Number 10, Downing Street on Friday.

“On the agenda will be various urgent issues, including the forward investment strategy for Northern Ireland, the economic situation, devolution of policing and justice, continuing concerns around paramilitary organisations, parades, sites, the Irish language and education, and the putting in place of a process to deal with them,” Mr Brown said in a statement.

“I look forward to my continuing involvement with the First and deputy First Ministers.

“I remain committed to the continuing implementation of the St Andrews agreement and to helping the parties to address those issues that have been raised with me and require resolution.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News