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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 09:03 GMT
Devolution: Who stands where on key issues
As politicians prepare to take the necessary steps to reintroduce devolution to Northern Ireland, we take a look at what the key players think about the issues that will help decide its destiny.

UK GOVERNMENT

Agreement: Eased the 24 November deadline for a final agreement following the St Andrews talks.

Instead, Sinn Fein and the DUP must merely indicate who they might nominate as First and Deputy First Minister.

The deadline for devolution is now March 26, 2007, and fresh assembly elections have been set for March 7.

The government then expects Sinn Fein and the DUP to nominate ministers in preparation for March 26 devolution - without which the assembly will be dissolved.

Pitfalls: The Independent Monitoring Commission report on paramilitary activity, due to be published in January, will have to give the IRA a clean bill of health if there is to be unionist confidence to move forward.

Policing: The government has legislated for the devolution of policing and justice but is concerned by DUP comments that it cannot happen for many years. The government insists MI5 must have a role in intelligence gathering, but has not provided the accountability sought by Sinn Fein and SDLP.

IRISH GOVERNMENT

Agreement: Dublin is as anxious as London to get progress on power-sharing and policing.

The Irish government may yet hold a referendum on the St Andrews Agreement and is awaiting a ruling from the Attorney General.

The Irish government continues to meet the parties and try to resolve the outstanding issues.

DEMOCRATIC UNIONISTS

Pie chart showing make-up of Northern Ireland Assembly

Seats at Stormont: 32

Agreement: Has not said no to the St Andrews Agreement but continues to have concerns, not least about the deadline for devolution.

The DUP views the timeframe as unrealistic.

Refusing to speak to Sinn Fein until the party recognises and accepts the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Power-sharing: Seeking more ministerial accountability but is satisfied that it has made some progress on this.

Leader Ian Paisley has met his Sinn Fein counterpart and sent his deputy, Peter Robinson, to attend the Programme for Government Committee.

Policing: The DUP insists Sinn Fein must sign up to the Policing Board, PSNI, the courts and the rule of law before power-sharing can occur.

IMC: Its report must show the IRA has kept its promise to follow a purely political path.

SINN FEIN

Seats at Stormont: 24

Agreement: Keen on a deal, and says St Andrews has the potential to move the process forward, subject to further negotiations.

Sinn Fein also expects the government to deliver on promises to promote the Irish language. Has concerns that DUP is not fully committed to power-sharing.

Policing: Is under pressure to call a special party conference, or Ard Fheis, to sign up to policing for the first time.

The party has concerns, however - not least the role of Mi5 and intelligence gathering and the timeframe for the assembly to gain control of policing.

IMC: Opposes the IMC but welcomed its last report which said the IRA had disbanded key departments.

ULSTER UNIONISTS

Seats at Stormont: 24

Agreement: The Ulster Unionists have reserved judgment on St Andrews and insisted that the Good Friday Agreement was a better deal for unionists.

Policing: Wants Sinn Fein to sign up to policing and the rule of law.

IMC: Its report will be critical to unionist confidence that the IRA has abandoned violence and embraced democracy.

SDLP

Seats at Stormont: 18

Agreement: Keen for a power-sharing deal but believes the Good Friday Agreement was a better one for nationalists.

Has opposed some of the proposed changes and has fought attempts by the DUP to win vetoes at the power-sharing table.

Policing: The party wants to break the DUP vetoes on the devolution of policing and justice and wants more accountability if MI5 is going to handle intelligence gathering.

IMC: Will come under pressure to cut Sinn Fein out of power-sharing if there is a negative IMC report.

ALLIANCE PARTY

Seats at Stormont: 6

Agreement: Anxious for a deal, but has complained that the St Andrew's Agreement entrenches sectarianism because of enforced coalition government and voting patterns based on unionist and nationalist block votes.

It is upset at not being invited to the Programme for Government Committee.

Policing: Supports the view that Sinn Fein must sign up to policing as the price of power-sharing.

IMC: Wants sanctions against parties that breach democratic principles.

PROGRESSIVE UNIONISTS

Seats at Stormont: 1

Agreement: Supported the Good Friday Agreement and wants St Andrews to work.

Its armed wing, the UVF, is concerned about enforced joint authority between London and Dublin if the deal falters.

It is thought to be considering issuing a positive statement on its future but is awaiting events.

Policing: The PUP's Dawn Purvis serves on the policing board and wants Sinn Fein signed up to policing.

IMC: Has an uneasy relationship with the monitoring commission, which has been extremely critical of the UVF.

The PUP has resumed contact with the body, but the UVF has yet to disband or disarm.

UK UNIONISTS

Seats at Stormont: 1

Agreement: Opposes St Andrews, insisting it is worse than the Good Friday Agreement. Is particularly opposed to compulsory coalition.

Policing: Sceptical that the IRA has given up all criminal or violent activity and is therefore not keen for Sinn Fein to be involved in policing structures.

Insists republicans must uphold the rule of law.




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