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2001: NI agreement stalls in Staffordshire
Six days of crisis talks to save the Northern Ireland peace process have ended in deadlock.

The British and Irish prime ministers and representatives from the main political parties in Northern Ireland - the UUP, the SDLP and Sinn Fein - have been in negotiations in Weston Park, Staffordshire since the beginning of the week.

Their meeting - planned to last two days - was sparked by the resignation of UUP leader David Trimble as head of the Northern Ireland Assembly at the beginning of the month.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern have drawn up a settlement for the Northern Irish parties, but both governments have issued statements to say that they will not enter into further talks.

Mr Blair said: "We believe the time for negotiating is through, we are confident we can put through a package for parties to accept or not."

We believe the time for negotiating is through
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The terms of the package to rescue the 1998 Good Friday Agreement will not be made public until they have been presented to the parties.

Debate at Weston Park has focused on policing and the decommissioning of terrorist weapons.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said: "The threat to this process doesn't come from the weapons of the IRA which are silenced."

He put the blame with the loyalists and security forces using plastic bullets.

Leader of the SDLP John Hume called on the IRA to make the next move to ensure peace.

This view was shared by the UUP leader David Trimble who left the negotiations early saying: "We have tried very hard in the course of this week to bring it home to the republican movement that it is their inescapable duty to fulfil the promises they made."

The parties have until 12 August to break their deadlock; then the British Government will decide either to dissolve the Northern Ireland Assembly or call fresh elections.

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The crisis talks
Six days of talks ended in stalemate



In Context
The Good Friday Agreement was signed at Stormont in April 1998 to create the Northern Ireland Assembly and new cross-border institutions.

Unionists were concerned that the IRA was not decommissioning quickly enough.

Republicans were concerned that the British were not demilitarising quickly enough.

The Anglo-Irish rescue package devised at Weston Park was given to the parties on 1 August.

It centred on policing, normalisation of the security presence in Northern Ireland, the stability of the new Northern Ireland institutions and the decommissioning of terrorist weapons.

No agreement had been reached by 12 August and the UK secretary for Northern Ireland, John Reid temporarily suspended the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Devolution was restored in November after Sinn Fein encouraged IRA decommissioning and David Trimble re-entered the Executive and was elected First Minister again.

But London suspended the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2002 over alleged intelligence gathering by republicans.

The issue of decommissioning remained the major stumbling block in talks between all parties seeking to restore devolution until September 2005 when it was confirmed the IRA had put all its weapons beyond use.

The Northern Ireland Assembly met on 8 May 2007 for the return of devolution with DUP leader Ian Paisley as first minister and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as deputy.

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