Blair cancels North trip amid falling expectations

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has cancelled plans to visit the North next week in an effort to kick-start fresh talks on restoring the power-sharing institutions.

Mr Blair was planning to deliver what Downing Street has described as a major speech intended to push forward the long-stalled peace process.

However, he has now postponed the visit amid growing pessimism about the prospects for fresh peace talks.

The Irish and British governments want the talks to go ahead following the Independent Monitoring Commission's conclusion that the IRA is genuine about its commitment to end all illegal activities.

However, the DUP is refusing to even consider sharing power with Sinn Féin unless all IRA activities end and the organisation is completely disbanded.

Despite the DUP stance, representatives of the two governments are still laying the groundwork for new peace talks and are due to discuss the current state of play with the Northern parties at Stormont today.

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