Ulster talks end with basis for deal, says Sinn Fein

Talks to save Northern Ireland's power-sharing government have ended and the basis for a deal now exists, Sinn Fein said today.

The announcement by the party's junior minister Gerry Kelly ends nearly two weeks of round-the-clock negotiations, with the outcome now depending on the reaction of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Both parties have been deadlocked on the issue of transferring policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont, while they have also debated a new system for overseeing Loyal Order parades.

Mr Kelly said: "The negotiations have come to a conclusion.

"We believe that it is a positive conclusion and we believe that it is the basis on which to move forward."

The republican spokesman would not be drawn on the position of the DUP.

But it has already been widely reported that the unionist party was divided on proposals for a deal presented to members in a private meeting on Monday.

DUP leader Peter Robinson is expected to address his Assembly colleagues as the focus now shifts to whether his party can sign up to the agreement.

The two parties have been involved in 10 days of discussions at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, along with representatives of the British and Irish governments.

Earlier today Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said he believed a positive announcement was in the pipeline.

When asked about the likely DUP reaction, Mr Kelly said: "I am not going to answer any questions on the DUP. I believe we have the basis on which to move forward."

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was poised to brief members of his party's officer board on the deal.

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