Justice talks at an end, says Adams

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Indy Politics

Talks on saving Northern Ireland's power-sharing government have ended without agreement, Sinn Fein said today.

As speculation mounts that the British and Irish governments will have to step in to save the negotiations, republicans escalated the war of words with the Democratic Unionist Party.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the talks effectively ended on Wednesday night, despite DUP claims otherwise, and he accused the Democratic Unionists of "playing the orange card" by demanding concessions on loyal order parades.

His party's executive, the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle, will meet tomorrow in Dublin where it will decide on the next course of action.

There are fears now that republicans will crank up political pressure and may go as far as pulling out of the power-sharing government.

Mr Adams today repeated that there was no deal with the DUP on the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Assembly, where Unionist calls for agreement on replacing the Parades Commission is believed to be a major stumbling block.

In a strongly worded attack, Mr Adams said the partition of Ireland "gave unionists a little orange state", and claimed organisations such as the Orange Order had since played a key political role.

"Even today most unionist politicians are in one or other of the loyal orders and those that aren't listen attentively to what the Orange wants," he wrote in his blog, Leargas.

"And what is that in 2010? They want the scrapping of the Parades Commission and progress on the ground - in other words marches through Catholic areas.

"It's sad that even now sectarianism and triumphalism still has such a huge grip on a large section of the unionist psyche.

"The orange card, played so often in the past to get their own way, is being played again as the DUP try to get the Orange Order what the Orange Order wants."

He added: "Sorry folks - it doesn't work like that any more. Those days are gone. The orange state is gone.

The Parades Commission rules on controversial loyal order parades which have been at the centre of tension in flashpoint areas where Catholic communities have objected to the marches.

And while unionists accuse republicans of fuelling tensions on the issue, the DUP is demanding the Commission be replaced by alternative structures proposed in a review led by Lord Ashdown.

The DUP has said Sinn Fein had previously agreed to reform of how parades are overseen, and accused republicans of political posturing.

Sinn Fein claims the issue is separate to securing the devolution of policing and justice powers.

Mr Adams said: "There can be no preconditions to that. Not on the Parades Commission; not on marches; not on equality and partnership government."

Alliance leader David Ford told the DUP and republicans they had to secure a deal for the benefit of all.

"A swift deal is essential and any deal must allow the whole Executive to start delivering quickly and effectively on the other issues they have put into cold storage. Any deal must end the state of paralysis the Executive is currently in," he said.

"Devolving policing and justice is not just about giving extra powers to local representatives, it's also about showing negative elements that devolution can work and giving the Executive the impetus to move forward on other important matters."

The DUP's Arlene Foster said her party wanted a resolution of the parades issue as part of a deal, and significantly said that securing agreement might require the involvement of the Government.