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Monday 27 January 2020

North talks 'on edge' despite progress

Efforts to reach a deal on policing and justice in the North are "on the edge", the UK's Secretary of State for the region has warned.

Shaun Woodward said a "reasonable" agreement was still possible if the parties involved showed the "political will" necessary to reach a deal.

But he warned that failure to come to a compromise would put the achievements of the peace process at risk.

He was speaking as talks continued between the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein and the Irish and British governments in an attempt to save the power-sharing government.

A deal is expected to cover the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to the Assembly by May, a key republican demand, plus new arrangements on overseeing Orange Order parades.

Mr Woodward said: "Considerable progress has been made. With good political will, we believe the parties should be able to reach a reasonable agreement."

But he warned: "Patience is required, but equally we must be careful not to try people's patience to distraction.

"Unfair failure to make progress would not be rewarded, and I don't mean by any particular process now, but by the people of Northern Ireland.

"We have changed their lives by the peace process, we have secured it in the political process.

"It is right to make progress but we do indeed now sit on the edge."

PA Media

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