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UK Politics

Brown sets deadline for Northern Ireland deal

Northern Ireland's political parties have been given until tomorrow to reach an agreement after intensive talks at Hillsborough Castle near Belfast failed to deliver an accord.

Gordon Brown and Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, left Northern Ireland after lengthy sessions in which they pressed the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein to hammer out a deal on devolving policing powers.

In a three-day operation, talks went on until 3am on Monday and 5am yesterday as the governments sought to settle issues which have been unresolved for months. They have said the parties have until tomorrow to reach agreement. If this does not happen, London and Dublin will publish proposals which they hope will be acceptable. Publication is regarded as an attempt to increase pressure on the parties to make a deal.

Mr Brown and Mr Cowen said there was now a basis for the parties to achieve a transfer of policing powers by May.