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NI talks to go 'down to the wire'
22 Dec 2014 19:07
A last day of crunch negotiations to secure a new political deal in Northern Ireland are set to go "down to the wire", Stormont's First Minister Peter Robinson has said.
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The DUP leader expressed hope that consensus could be found as the talks involving the five Executive parties and the UK and Irish governments enter their final hours in Belfast.
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"This is the day decisions have to be taken, whether that rolls into the early hours or not," he said.
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"There is no tomorrow as far as this deal is concerned."
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The parties are currently examining a revised financial offer from British Prime Minister David Cameron that could pave the way for an agreement.
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Mr Robinson struck an optimistic note as he took a break from the long-running negotiations, which are now in their 11th week.
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"I feel a bit like marathon runner who after the end of 20 miles has the stadium in sight. Whether we reach there or get over the line, only the next number of hours will tell," he said.
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"It really is down to the wire, we have a very short period of time left to us to try and reach conclusions."
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He added "I think there is a real chance for us to do the job but it does require all of us to apply ourselves and at the end of the day it will require all of us to stretch ourselves."
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Sinn Féin negotiator Conor Murphy also sounded relatively upbeat as he assessed the chances of progress.
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"We came here ten weeks ago trying to hammer out a deal, we are here today still trying to hammer out that deal, so we have to be optimistic, we are not naive about the challenges that are facing us, these are significant issues," the Newry and Armagh MP said.
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"I think there is a sense of common purpose among the parties, not on every position but on a willingness to try and find something we can all live with."
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Negotiations are currently focused on a new financial package proposed by Mr Cameron.
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