Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Tories' reform plan for Stormont

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson would negotiate with NI parties to reform Stormont

The Conservatives have said if they were in government they would negotiate with Northern Ireland parties to reform Stormont's power-sharing structures.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has ruled out any move towards what is known as a voluntary coalition, arguing it amounts to a return to majority unionist rule.

However, Conservative NI spokesman Owen Paterson said it remained his preferred option.

"We would negotiate and discuss this with the local parties," he said.

"This is a very useful stage in the process - we've got people working together, who've not worked together for decades.

"But I don't see this as the final arrangement and we're quite open about that - we would like in due course, this could be years away, to move to a more normal democratic arrangement."

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