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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 18:02 GMT
DUP 'would share power in May'
Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley has said his party will share power, but not this week
The DUP has agreed to share power in May - if the government will agree to push back the deadline for six weeks.

The party's ruling executive overwhelmingly passed a resolution understood to offer a definite date for going into government with Sinn Fein.

The government has previously said Stormont will be dissolved if Monday's devolution deadline is not met.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the DUP was seeking to "frustrate the will of the electorate".

He said commitments to dissolve Stormont in the absence of agreement must be kept.

"If the DUP wants a functioning assembly after March 26 this can only happen through direct dialogue and agreement with Sinn Fein and the other parties," he said.

"In the meantime the two governments must now proceed to put in place their all-Ireland partnership arrangements."

Government sources told the BBC Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has yet to be informed of the DUP executive's resolution.

The sources said the government would not produce the emergency legislation the DUP wanted and there had been no agreement to defer water charges.

If there is no deal by Monday's devolution deadline, the government's view is that the assembly will be dissolved and it will be up to the parties to agree a position amongst themselves.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the details of the resolution would be released after negotiations with the government are concluded.

Grass being cut at Stormont
The government has threatened to dissolve Stormont

"The Ulster people will be persuaded, they will not be driven," Mr Paisley told reporters after the DUP meeting.

The party is thought to have offered to take part in a meeting of the Programme for Government committee featuring both Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Earlier, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he thought the government may be intending to legislate for a delay to the return of full devolution.

Sir Reg said he understood an eight-week delay was under consideration.

Secretary of State Peter Hain has consistently denied there will be any emergency legislation to alter Monday's deadline.

Legislation

The 120-strong DUP executive meeting has been described by some party figures as the most important in its history.

Mr Paisley held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair twice within 48 hours this week.

After the second meeting, Downing Street re-iterated that Monday's deadline stood.

Mr Paisley said a "great deal of ground" had been covered.

However, he earlier said a financial package offered by Chancellor Gordon Brown did not meet Northern Ireland's economic needs.

Mr Brown has promised an extra 1bn if devolution is back on Monday.

The cash is on top of 35bn promised by the government over four years.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.

A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place since that date.




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Ian Paisley speaks after meeting




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