Ulster parties must reach deal, says Blair

Tony Blair yesterday warned Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley that he will implement "Plan B" if they refuse to reach a deal over next week's summit at Leeds castle in Kent to revive the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland.

Tony Blair yesterday warned Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley that he will implement "Plan B" if they refuse to reach a deal over next week's summit at Leeds castle in Kent to revive the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland.

Mr Blair, at his monthly televised press conference in London, made clear that republican and hardline Unionist leaders would not be allowed to veto progress in Northern Ireland. He said if no deal was reached after two days of negotiations, "we have got to look for another way forward", adding: "I don't think its very sensible to discuss Plan B."

Many in Northern Ireland believe that would involve renewed talks with the willing, and the Dublin government, to inch the process forward. But Mr Blair appears to be losing patience. "If we pop up at yet another press conference at the end of two days and say there's been a very nice atmosphere, and let's see if we can work out a way forward, people are entitled to be cynical about it. People in Northern Ireland know what the issues are; they want to know from both sides, Are you really up for this or not'."

Senior Downing Street officials rejected suggestions that Mr Paisley, the DUP leader, and Mr Adams, president of Sinn Fein, could wait until next year for a deal, when both could be electorally stronger. "We are not going to stand still," said one Downing Street official.

The Northern Ireland executive was suspended after the failure of the IRA to take convincing action to disavow violence by decommissioning its weapons. Mr Paisley, who has made gains at the expense of the more moderate Ulster Unionists led by David Trimble, last week indicated his opposition to a deal.

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