Tags: protestants | catholics | nireland | power

Protestants, Catholics Cut NIreland Power Deal

Thursday, 04 February 2010 10:18 PM EST

BELFAST — Northern Ireland's main Protestant party has backed a deal with their Catholic power-sharing partners and pulled the province's threatened administration back from the brink, its leader said.

After days of fraught negotiations, Peter Robinson, leader of the province, said his party had voted in favour of proposals to break an impasse with the republican Sinn Fein party.

Robinson's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had "considered the matter and have unanimously supported the way forward," the first minister said in Belfast after meeting the party's elected representatives.

He added full details of the proposals would be published later Friday, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen are expected to fly in to seal a deal.

The breakthrough on the issues of policing, justice and parades that had divided the joint government came after days of round-the-clock negotiations amid mounting fears the administration in the province was heading towards collapse.

Transferring justice and policing power from London to Belfast's power-sharing government is a vital part of the devolution process in the province.

Robinson said his party would now "seek the support of the other parties and the community" to finalise an agreement.

With the unanimous support of his party and if "you are able to gain the support of other parties and the community, I believe it's a sound deal," he said.

Robinson's announcement came after Sinn Fein said earlier Thursday talks had ended and the basis for a deal existed. The DUP's leaders are expected to ratify its party's decision later Friday.

The executive with two old foes sharing power was set up more than a decade ago as part of a peace accord that largely ended three decades of violence in the troubled province that killed at least 3,500 people.

Thursday's breakthrough came a day after Peter Robinson resumed his duties as first minister after being cleared of breaching official rules over links to his scandal-hit wife's impropriety.

He stood aside temporarily on January 11 after his wife Iris admitted an affair with a teenager, and a television investigation alleged financial impropriety by her and possible breach of disclosure rules by him.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

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Thursday, 04 February 2010 10:18 PM
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