Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Justice threat 'could halt talks'

By Mark Devenport
BBC NI political editor

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson (right) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left)
Peter Robinson said the

DUP leader Peter Robinson has warned Sinn Fein that negotiations on devolving justice could come to a halt if republicans resort to "blackmail".

His statement follows an article from a senior Sinn Fein official this week that the current impasse over justice could go into "free-fall".

Mr Robinson and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness are expected to meet Gordon Brown in London on Saturday.

However, relations between their parties seem to hitting another low.

Earlier this week a senior Sinn Fein official Declan Kearney used a newspaper article to warn the DUP and the government that republicans should not be taken for granted and politics might go into free fall.

Although the Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly denied that was a threat to pull out of Stormont Peter Robinson seems unconvinced.

He said his party will neither submit to blackmail nor negotiate in a climate of blackmail.

"I know it is hard for Sinn Fein to come to terms with the new circumstances in which they can no longer bully and browbeat in order to get their way," he said.

"Past governments and the UUP may have caved-in to those tactics but the DUP will not yield to threats about facing "melt-down" or "free-fall" if Sinn Fein is not mollified.

"Democracy can be frustrating at times but constant whinging and threatening to sink the vessel they are sailing in seems more than a trifle unwise."

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