The Taoiseach has said he cannot see short term solutions to at least two items in the Northern Ireland peace talks unless parties significantly move their positions.

Mr Ahern also told the Dáil he could not see an agreement being reached between the parties by Friday.

Today SF, the DUP and the SDLP held separate meetings in Dublin and London as part of moves aimed at reviving devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met a senior Sinn Féin delegation for talks in Dublin. The Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, said it was a good meeting and that the discussion had focused on demilitarisation in Northern Ireland.

He praised the Taoiseach for representations he had made on the issue to the British government, and said Mr Ahern’s efforts were a very welcome development.

Earlier, Mr Adams responded to a call from the DUP leader Ian Paisley for the IRA to 'wear sackcloth and ashes'. The Sinn Féin leader said the politics of humiliation do not work.

Paisley pleased with talks progress

Mr Paisley had made the call in London where he met the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The DUP leader described negotiations aimed at restoring power-sharing as moving in the right direction.

Mr Paisley said the most important matter was decommissioning of IRA arms and that the ordinary man in the street needed to be convinced that arms had been put away.

He said he had discussed with Mr Blair the mechanics of decommissioning. This included 'adequate safeguards' for those monitoring the decommissioning.

Mr Paisley added that it would be very difficult for him personally to share power with Sinn Féin but that he believed in repentance and forgiveness.

He said that a deal which would bring lasting peace to the North could be done, but that it rested on decommissioning and proving to people that the terrorist activities of the IRA had been put away.

Durkan in talks with Blair

Elsewhere, the SDLP leader has said that he is satisfied that any progress towards agreement in the North will be on the template of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mark Durkan was speaking following talks with the British Prime Minister at Downing Street this afternoon.

Mr Durkan said he had relayed to Tony Blair some of the SDLP's concerns about details in the negotiations.

He said he had urged Mr Blair to expedite the security normalisation agenda in Northern Ireland and warned that the resolution of issues around the devolution of justice should not delay progress in the negotiations.

Mr Durkan repeated that he believed Tony Blair had not lived up to the commitments he had made at Weston Park in relation to the Pat Finucane inquiry.

He said the legislation unveiled by the British government last week had breached undertakings given to the SDLP and to the Finucane family.