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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Talks intensify as deadline nears
Intensive efforts to break the political impasse in Northern Ireland are set to continue on Monday.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations are taking place aimed at resolving the outstanding issues in the peace process, including that of IRA decommissioning.

The political institutions face collapse after five unionist ministers withdrew from the power-sharing executive last Thursday in the absence of IRA decommissioning.

Senior security sources told the BBC they were not ruling out an IRA move on weapons within days.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness travelled to America on Sunday evening for a round of talks with political leaders in Washington.

Northern Ireland secretary John Reid
Dr John Reid: Guest speaker

Earlier, the Northern Ireland secretary said that although he accepted Sinn Fein were trying hard to resolve the decommissioning issue, time was running out.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams confirmed he had been in contact with the IRA.

Mr Adams also spoke to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on Saturday.

He said Sinn Fein's talks with the British and Irish Governments and other political parties would go on at least until Monday.

Security sources told the BBC on Saturday that the IRA could move on the arms issue without the organisation holding a convention - a meeting at which the IRA rules on matters of major importance.

Launch new window : Fast Facts Primer
Click above to launch a primer on where all the parties stand on the deadlock

The latest round of talks was precipitated by the resignations of three Ulster Unionist ministers and two DUP ministers from the Stormont executive last Thursday.

Under assembly rules, there are another three days in which UUP leader David Trimble could prevent the collapse of the power-sharing arrangement and a return to direct rule by deciding to re-nominate his ministers.

Mr Trimble has said that would depend on the IRA putting its weapons beyond use in a verifiable and meaningful way.

If devolution is suspended for an unlimited period, it is likely the government will start a review of the implementation of the Agreement.

Meanwhile, John Reid and the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, will be among the guest speakers at a media conference in Belfast on Monday.

They will each give an address to a conference of the Society of Editors being held in the province.

The three-day conference, which began on Sunday, has brought together more than 130 of the UK's leading figures in the press and broadcast media.

Dr Reid and Sir Ronnie will be speaking during a sensitive time in the political process.

Editors and senior media executives from Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are expected to attend the Society of Editors conference to hear from more than 40 speakers.

Society president Ed Curran, editor of the Belfast Telegraph, said: "I am delighted to welcome this most prestigious event to Belfast for the first time, especially as many of the current editors spent many of their earlier years in journalism reporting about Northern Ireland."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Michael McGimpsey, Ulster Unionist
and Mitchell McLaughlin, chairman of Sinn Fein

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

20 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Will IRA move soon on arms?
18 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Q&A: Assembly crisis
13 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Political process in crisis
13 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble urges move on IRA ceasefire
20 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein 'pressing for arms move'
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