Brown in Ireland as stalemate threatens devolution

By Liz Stephens

Gordon Brown flew to Northern Ireland today for urgent talks at Stormont with the power-sharing government.

Tensions have been rising for weeks over plans to devolve control over the police and courts back into local hands.

Sinn Fein have insisted that gaining control of local justice is the only way to bring Catholics on side and end the traditional argument of loyalist bias.

The Democratic Unionists, while supporting the transfer of powers in principle, have argued that British taxpayers must pay £600 million for a Northern Irish Justice Department. They are currently blocking the move.

This has placed Northern Ireland’s first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuiness at loggerheads with both the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein using their powers of veto to block each others policy decisions of late.

Harsh words were traded between the two leaders with Mr McGuinness warning Mr Robinson to get his house in order and “face down” the “angry men within his party who are determined to destroy the institutions”.

Mr Robinson has said: “I was not elected to be a buddy for Martin McGuinness. I was elected to work with him, and that’s why I’m here”.

Mr Brown has flown to Northern Ireland to hold talks with both parties amid fears that the escalating row could bring down the hard fought-for power-sharing executive.