Northern Ireland

NI talks: Robinson and McGuinness want resolution this week

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Robinson suggested that if there was to be a deal, it had to happen this week

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has said he hopes the government regards the end of this week as the deadline to reach agreement in the Stormont cross-party talks.

The talks concern disputes on flags, parades, the past and welfare reform.

The British and Irish prime ministers David Cameron and Enda Kenny will be in Belfast this week to broker a solution.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the talks had reached "crunch time".

"We can't live with this going past Christmas," he told the assembly.

He added that he wanted the talks to be concluded by the end of the week.

'Pushed'

Mr Robinson told the BBC that there was no point extending the talks if a deal was not in sight.

He said that when Mr Cameron and Mr Kenny joined the negotiations on Thursday, they may push the Northern Ireland political parties to get a deal over the line.

However, he added that they in turn would find themselves being pushed on issues that the parties want to see delivered.

Alliance leader David Ford said there was "no real progress on flags and parades" but progress had been made in dealing with the past.

Chancellor George Osborne has said devolving corporation tax powers to Stormont would depend on the outcome of the talks.

Unlike the rest of the UK, reductions to the welfare budget have not been implemented in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin is opposed to introducing the cuts, while the DUP says that the consequent reduction in Northern Ireland's block grant means that there is no choice. The shortfall is estimated at £200m.

A previous effort to find new mechanisms to deal with the issues of flags, parades, and the legacy of the Troubles ended without agreement last Christmas.

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC