US envoy due in North as DUP-SF stand-off continues

US envoy Paula Dobrinsky is due in the North later today as a major stand-off between the DUP and Sinn Féin continues to impede the work of the power-sharing Executive.

The Executive has failed to hold a meeting since mid-June due to the impasse, which centres on the DUP's refusal to approve the devolution of policing and justice powers from London to Stormont.

The unionist party says it still needs more time to assess the IRA's future intentions, despite various reports indicating that the paramilitary group is living up to its commitments.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is also due to hold talks with the two parties later this week in the hope of finding a resolution to the row.

There is speculation that an early election may be called if both sides cannot resolve their differences.

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