DUP rules out 'speedy resolution'

Mr Robinson said the outstanding issues could not be resolved quickly

The chances of a breakthrough in resolving the political stalemate in Northern Ireland have been played down by the DUP.

Intensive negotiations involving the British and Irish Governments and the political parties are set to take place next month in an attempt to restore devolution.

The political institutions in the province were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said his party was not going to accept whatever was offered - and pointed out that it took two years to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Robinson also ruled out a short-time frame for the devolution of policing and justice powers - a key Sinn Fein demand.

He said his party wanted the powers transferred but said confidence was not sufficient in the community.

"This is not the sort of issue where someone can put a red circle around a certain date on the calendar and say that is the time when policing and justice powers will be devolved," he said.

"It is an essential issue for the lives of people in Northern Ireland and we have to ensure that we get it right."

Mr Robinson was responding to comments made by the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in the Irish Times on Tuesday.

Mr Adams said policing would be the "spine" of next month's talks.

Mr Robinson also backed assembly member Ian Paisley Junior's assessment of Mr Adams' remarks last week that republicans, in the right conditions, should be prepared to remove the IRA and the issue of IRA arms as an excuse for unionists to block progress.

Mr Robinson said words were not enough, he said unionists wanted to "weigh the semtex, not the words".

Meanwhile, Mr Adams has said the British and Irish governments must keep previous commitments if the political stalemate in Northern Ireland can be resolved, Gerry Adams has said.


Writing in the Irish Times, Mr Adams said sequencing would be crucial when dealing with matters "already promised".

The commitments from the governments to republicans are said to include promises on demilitarisation and allowing on-the-run republicans to return home.

Mr Adams stressed that Sinn Fein would not support the current arrangements until all outstanding issues were dealt with.

If this were to happen, he said, the party would then consult with the wider nationalist and republican community.

The issue of ongoing paramilitary activity remains a major obstacle to restoring devolution with Northern Ireland's largest party, the Democratic Unionists, adamant that the IRA must wind down if they are ever to share power with Sinn Fein.

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