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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Parties will agree to deal - Hain
Peter Hain
Peter Hain said the parties "know the consequences"
The secretary of state has said he believes Northern Ireland's political parties will agree to the details of the St Andrews Agreement.

Peter Hain said he believed all issues could be resolved by 10 November.

He was speaking after meeting Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern in Dublin.

Disagreements over the pledge led to the postponement of a meeting between DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams last week.

Mr Hain said: "We are determined to get the final settlement of the political process in place after the St Andrews Agreement.

If the answer is no, then the parties all know the consequences, which is that the assembly will be dissolved for who knows how many years to come
Peter Hain
Secretary of state

"As we made clear, the twin pillars of this settlement are power-sharing on the one hand and support for policing and the rule of law on the other.

"Both stand or fall together and all the parties, I think, understand that.

"We are awaiting the results of the parties' consultations and we expect them to come back and say they support the St Andrews Agreement by the 10 November.

"If the answer is yes, then we will prepare the necessary legislation for introduction to parliament in the week starting 20 November.

"If the answer is no, then the parties all know the consequences, which is that the assembly will be dissolved for who knows how many years to come."

'Not to pander'

Mr Ahern said as well as the political situation, both sides had discussed security, human rights, equality and community relations.

"We also discussed issues in relation to north-south, and we will be issuing a study report on Thursday, and issues on east-west matters."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has warned the British government not to pander to what he called "unrealistic demands" from the DUP.

Speaking at a Sinn Fein conference in Newry, County Down, on Tuesday, Mr Adams called on the Irish government to ensure the British government "did not take short sighted decisions".

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams
A meeting between the party leaders was postponed

He said Sinn Fein was continuing to work with the two governments to try to resolve the current difficulties over a ministerial pledge of office.

The row over the pledge had not been caused by republicans, but was a result of a difference between the DUP and the British government, he said.

The DUP wants a pledge of support for policing in place before DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness can become shadow first and deputy first minister.

The St Andrews Agreement stated that before the government legislated on the pledge of office, "it will consider the outcome of further Preparation for Government Committee discussions on policing and the rule of law".

The Northern Ireland parties have been given until 10 November to respond to the St Andrews Agreement.

It was published after intensive three-day talks between the parties at St Andrews in Scotland.

If all goes to plan, a first and deputy first minister will be nominated on 24 November and the devolved institutions will be up and running by 26 March.


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