| 12.3°C Dublin

Cowen and Brown in Belfast talks

The Taoiseach Brian Cowen and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will travel to Belfast for emergency talks with Northern Ireland's political leaders.

The two leaders are flying to the province as fears mount that the fragile power sharing institutions could collapse over the ongoing row between Sinn Fein and the DUP about the stalled devolution of law and order powers.

"We believe that the problems that exist in devolving policing and justice are soluble problems," Mr Brown said after meeting Mr Cowen at Downing Street.

"We believe it is right for Northern Ireland to move forward in this way and we believe that together we can assist in the completion of these talks."

Speaking as they emerged from talks which lasted around 90 minutes, Mr Brown said the visit had been planned in conversations between the two leaders.

"While I recognise that there are difficult issues, we believe that these issues can be overcome. So we will together go to Northern Ireland and talk to Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness and talk to other parties in Northern Ireland and we believe there is a chance that progress will be made."

Mr Cowen said the premiers believed their visit "should help bring a conclusion to the devolution issues".

Asked whether they could set a date for the devolution of the issues, the Taoiseach said: "There is no doubt that we need to resolve this matter in a way that would assure that devolution of policing and justice would take place in a specified period.

"We believe that with goodwill and determination and good faith on all sides it should be possible. We believe the outstanding issues are resolvable."

PA Media