Sinn Féin’s national executive met today for crucial talks on whether to hold a party conference at the end of the month, where a historic debate on support for policing will take place.
The motion being put forward by Gerry Adams is to convene an Ard Fheis in Dublin on January 28.
If passed it could create the conditions for republicans to make a landmark shift in support for the police in Northern Ireland.
But if it fails plans for power-sharing could founder.
Mitchell McLaughlin, the party’s general secretary, said hopefully the Ard Chomhairle would support it.
He said: “This obviously has been a very, very difficult two weeks since the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle on the 29th December which decided to move to the next Ard Fheis.
“The difficulty has been caused by the failure of the DUP to step up to the plate.”
For the motion to be passed by the 56-strong Ard Chomhairle two thirds support is required.
It is being put forward despite the reluctance of the DUP to make a statement that it would share power with republicans – a move Mr Adams claimed had already been agreed.
The meeting at the Great Southern Hotel at Dublin Airport began at 1pm and is likely to run all day.
Mr McLaughlin said people would recognise the move by Sinn Fein was a significant development given the difficulties created by others.
“I hope the Ard Chomhairle will endorse this, that we can create the necessary conditions and momentum, and hopefully create the atmosphere, that will encourage others that are hesitant or confused at this stage, to likewise work within the St Andrew’s Agreement,” he said.