Murphy 'cannot impose sanctions'

Sinn Fein is to tell Paul Murphy he has no right to impose sanctions against the party following the Northern Bank robbery.

A delegation will meet the secretary of state at Hillsborough Castle on Wednesday.

A delegation from the Alliance Party is also due to meet Mr Murphy.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday that ongoing IRA activity was the "obstacle to a lasting and durable settlement in Northern Ireland".

He was speaking after meeting Bertie Ahern at Downing Street to assess their political options in the wake of the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy updated them on the latest security assessments.

This included the state of the investigation into the Belfast robbery, which has been blamed on the IRA.

Ceasefire report

The Independent Monitoring Commission's report on the robbery is expected to be sent to the governments this week.

The ceasefire watchdog's report is expected to confirm the police assessment that the IRA was behind the raid, and to recommend certain sanctions.

The two prime ministers' meeting was seen as their most significant since they launched their joint proposals for the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland in December.

The two governments have been considering their strategy for the coming year.

It is understood they believe an all-inclusive executive is impossible without a complete end to IRA activity.

The four Independent Monitoring Commissioners have held recent meetings with the chief constable and the garda commissioner, as well as extensive high-level meetings with British and Irish Government officials.

There has been speculation that their report will be published next week.

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