Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Policing and justice talks progress made - McGuinness

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams
Martin McGuinness was speaking at the annual Bloody Sunday memorial

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the talks aimed at breaking the impasse over policing and justice have made "considerable progress".

He said that the talks were close to an agreement which would give participants "a basis to move forward".

The talks at Hillsborough Castle, outside Belfast, will resume on Monday.

Sinn Fein and the DUP have been arguing for months over the timing and circumstances of the transfer of policing and justice powers to Belfast.

Sinn Fein wants the powers transferred immediately, while the DUP has said that can only happen when there is "community confidence" among unionists.

The largest unionist party said that confidence could be built through a deal on how to resolve the parading issue. However, republicans have maintained that devolution should not depend on agreement on parading.

'Getting somewhere'

Institutions which don't deliver are worthless

Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister

Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen chaired talks between Northern Ireland's political parties for three days.

On Wednesday, they said that if there was no deal within 48 hours, they would publish their own proposals, but that deadline was allowed to pass with the parties still locked in discussions.

Speaking during the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Londonderry, Mr McGuinness said the talks had borne fruit.

He said that failure was not a "realistic or viable path".

He added: "Institutions which don't deliver are worthless and something I will not be involved in.

"I now hope we have a basis upon which nationalists, republicans, unionists and loyalists will move forward together on the basis of partnership and equality."


Mr McGuinness' party colleague John O'Dowd said his party's position had come about because "politics was not working". However he implied that a deal may now be imminent.

"I am glad to say that politics is slowly grinding forward," he said.

"It hasn't reached the momentum where it's going to move forward quickly, but if it's tomorrow or the day after, I think that is a good thing for us all."

DUP Assembly member Sammy Wilson agreed that the talks had taken a step forward and said that "when a deal is finalised the public will get a chance to debate it."

The talks represent the longest period of sustained negotiations since the peace process began in the 1990s.

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