Sinn Fein leaders meet over power-sharing deadlock

The future of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government could hinge on a meeting today of Sinn Fein leaders who accuse unionists of blocking a deal on the devolution of policing and justice powers.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams claimed the Democratic Unionists derailed talks on the issue at the Stormont Assembly by demanding concessions on controls over Orange Order parades.

But DUP leader Peter Robinson said progress was being made in the negotiations and claimed republicans were creating an unnecessary political crisis.

The Sinn Fein ard chomhairle was meeting in Dublin this morning, with the party's ruling executive expected to announce their next move within hours.

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

Three years ago Sinn Fein backed the new policing arrangements in Northern Ireland on condition that the Assembly eventually took over political responsibility for law and order from Westminster.

But with unionists insisting that the conditions must be right before completing the transfer of the powers, and with Sinn Fein demanding they close a deal, the long-running dispute has now reached crisis point.

There is mounting speculation that the British and Irish governments will be forced to step in to salvage the process, with it now appearing increasingly likely that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his opposite number in Dublin, taoiseach Brian Cowen, will have to become directly involved.

The last two days have seen an escalating war of words between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

But after republicans announced yesterday that talks at Stormont had ended without agreement, Mr Robinson called for calm.

"It seems every time I think there is a good day (in the talks), I awaken to find someone is moving away and moving backwards," he said.

"People recognise that the community in Northern Ireland doesn't want to go back to the old days, they want a steady hand on the helm and want to see progress being made."

Sinn Fein wants to secure a date for the transfer of the powers while the DUP has been pressing for changes to how controversial loyal order parades are governed.

Currently the Parades Commission adjudicates on processions like Drumcree in Portadown, Co Armagh, where Orangemen have been barred from walking along the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Mr Robinson said both sides in the Stormont talks had recognised there was a need for engagement on parades.

"I thought we were moving in the right direction and were starting to see the areas of concern to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and to Sinn Fein in relation to the structures recommended by the Ashdown Review. We were looking at other ways," he said.

In the summer of 2008 Paddy Ashdown's Strategic Review of Parading came back with what it described as interim proposals placing local dialogue at the heart of the process.

It said that, where possible, the dispute would be solved in the first instance by dialogue between those organising the parade and those objecting - local councils would facilitate such talks, if necessary.

If such dialogue failed, the highest office in the Northern Ireland Executive, the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) would appoint a mediator, drawn from a list selected by public appointment.

Nationalists have warned against repoliticising adjudication on parades.

Mr Adams said the talks effectively ended on Wednesday night and he accused the Democratic Unionists of "playing the orange card" by demanding concessions on loyal order parades.

He 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 Ulster Unionists and the nationalist SDLP, which also holds seats on the Northern Ireland Executive, dominated by the larger DUP and Sinn Fein, expressed concerns at the escalating dispute.

Their fears were echoed by the Alliance Party, tipped to be a compromise candidate to take on a new Justice Ministry at Stormont if the row can be resolved and the policing powers devolved.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little