British prime minister Tony Blair has been asked to break the new deadlock over policing and power-sharing in the North, it emerged today.
After Sinn Féin hinted its special party conference to consider endorsing the Police Service of Northern Ireland was in doubt, it is understood Mr Blair has returned early from his holiday in Florida in a bid to bridge the gap between Gerry Adams’ party and Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists.
Sinn Féin last night said that its decision to hold a special party conference this month on the policing issue was predicated on a positive response from the Irish and British governments and the DUP.
A party spokesperson said: “To date there has been no such positive response from the DUP. Given the sensitivities of the situation this Sinn Féin leadership has been in intense discussions with the British government.
“Gerry Adams has spoken to Tony Blair several times over recent days including tonight.”
Sinn Féin is believed to be unhappy with a statement earlier in the week from Mr Paisley following the party’s decision last Friday to call a special policing conference.
Stormont sources suggested that republicans had anticipated the DUP leader would use certain positive language in his new year statement but it did not materialise.
The DUP leader welcomed the republican move to have a Sinn Féin special conference but reminded them that it was actions and not words which would count.
A source said: “The prime minister has been involved in contacts with Sinn Féin and the DUP and there has been a growing sense of concern. There is a feeling that he will have to make a judgement call on what is the best way forward.”