Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 22:31 UK

Sinn Fein blockade 'is blackmail'

Conservative leader David Cameron and UUP leader Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg Empey made his comments at the Conservative Party conference

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey has accused Sinn Féin of blackmail over its "blockade" of the Stormont Executive.

He made the comments at a meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

He said the activities of local politicians were in contrast with those of others in a time of global financial crisis.

Earlier, Martin McGuinness said it was highly unlikely that the Executive would meet on Thursday.

The devolution of policing powers has been a contentious issue between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin is not going to play second fiddle to a DUP agenda in these institutions," the deputy first minister said.

Last week First Minister Peter Robinson said it was imperative the Executive should meet as planned on Thursday.

Mr McGuinness said that the situation was "very serious" but that the institutions could only work on a basis of "partnership and equality".

"In the course of recent days we have been engaged in a number of discussions with the DUP aimed at agreeing an agenda for an executive meeting on Thursday," he said.

"Agreeing an agenda means that all issues of concern need to be put on the agenda - not simply those of concern to the unionist community or the DUP.

"Despite our efforts this has not succeeded and no progress has been made."

A DUP spokesman said he was "disappointed" by Mr McGuinness's remarks.

"If he is talking about a serious situation, it is a situation of his own making - we want to see the executive going ahead," he said.

DUP face problem with partnership
27 Sep 08 |  Northern Ireland
Leaders hope executive will meet
26 Sep 08 |  Northern Ireland

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific