Northern Secretary Shaun Woodward said today he remained “confident” that a deal would be reached on the handover of policing and justice powers to the Stormont executive.
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has warned that the North is facing a “full-blown crisis” unless there is an agreement in place by Christmas.
Sinn Féin has accused the Democratic Unionists (DUP), led by First Minister Peter Robinson, of stalling on a deal which would see control over law and order powers pass from Westminster to the Northern Assembly.
The DUP, in turn, has accused Sinn Féin of “sabre-rattling” and warned against the setting of “arbitrary deadlines”.
Mr Woodward insisted that “real progress” was being made towards an agreement.
“I think that in the coming weeks it will be possible to achieve these last parts of the package that will allow devolution to go through for policing and justice,” he told BBC Radio 4’s 'Today' programme.
“I am confident that the political leaders in Northern Ireland will manage to find an agreement.”