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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 17:10 GMT
Summer pledge on NI talks plans
Tony Blair greets Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern
The British and Irish governments held talks at Downing Street
Both governments are committed to publishing plans for breaking the political stalemate in NI before the marching season, the Irish PM has said.

Bertie Ahern made the comments as he left Downing Street where he and Prime Minister Tony Blair had held talks.

Mr Ahern also welcomed the publication of the latest Independent Monitoring Commission report which said the IRA was no longer a terrorist threat.

Nationalists want the governments to recall the assembly this spring.

Mr Ahern said both governments wanted to work with all of the political parties to find a solution acceptable to everyone.

"We want all the parties to help us in this, this is not just for the two governments," he said.

"But if it's left to the two governments, the two governments will give the leadership and make the decisions if that's the way it has to be.

"But certainly we would like to find a way to carry everyone with us."

Coordinated approach

A spokesman for Mr Blair said Wednesday's talks were to ensure a coordinated approach between London and Dublin, and that the prime minister was now "clearer in his head" about where the process was headed.

The spokesman would not be drawn about details of what had been agreed and whether a two-step assembly, leading to full devolution after a period of trust-building, remained part of the proposals.

However, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty said the Downing Street talks were a "missed opportunity" to move the process forward.

The West Tyrone MP said the governments should have heeded his party's call to set a date for the recall of the assembly and the election of ministers before the end of April.

Not workable

Mr Doherty rejected suggestions it was his party which scuppered the "road map" and said it was not a workable plan to have a shadow assembly.

He also dismissed the IMC as a "joke" and complained it had failed to deal with what he called political policing.

Talks involving the two governments and local parties which had been scheduled to take place at Stormont on Wednesday were postponed.

Government officials said this was because of logistical reasons.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds
DUP MP Nigel Dodds called for devolution without an executive
However, 8 March was the date set by the secretary of state for agreement on rule changes to any future assembly.

Sinn Fein want the governments to set a deadline for the DUP to get into an assembly with nationalists before the summer.

However, Nigel Dodds of the DUP called on Mr Blair to "face Sinn Fein down" and go for devolution without an executive.

Speaking ahead of the talks, he said: "Our message to Tony Blair is clear - further procrastination will achieve nothing.

"Get on with the job of creating the maximum amount of devolution which is possible in the circumstances and clearly that does not include executive-style devolution.

"Recognise also that we will accept no kind of time-limited option which demands a move to executive style government at a certain arbitrary date."





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