DUP will not meet power-sharing deadline, says Sinn Fein

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The Independent Online

The Democratic Unionist Party has not agreed to share power by the March deadline set for the Northern Ireland peace process, Sinn Fein said today.

The nationalist party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness warned the hardline party's position was not acceptable to republicans and said the DUP had also failed to agree devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly by 2008.

The majority unionist party has called for evidence of Sinn Fein's commitment to the rule of law.

The Prime Minister flew home early from his Florida holiday yesterday for intense discussions as the policing dispute between DUP leader Ian Paisley and republicans continued.

Mr McGuinness said: "It is obvious that Ian Paisley has not agreed with the assessment of the DUP's position set out by British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday.

"While everyone wants the process to continue to move forward it is pointless pretending the DUP has agreed to share power by March 26 or to the timetable for the transfer of powers on policing by May 2008 when they clearly have not."

Unionists want to see Sinn Fein accept the participation of its supporters in policing and sitting on police scrutiny boards.

Sinn Fein had agreed to hold an ard fheis, or party conference, on the matter by the end of the month.

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