David Cameron meets Irish premier as Stormont power share rescue bid ramped up


David Cameron will meet his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny at Downing Street today as efforts to save Stormont power sharing intensify.

The British Prime Minister held private discussions with the heads of the ministerial Executive in Belfast, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, last week.

Crisis talks began in September after the killing of a former IRA man by alleged members of the Provisional IRA.

The death of Kevin McGuigan, years after many believed an IRA responsible for many Troubles killings had gone away, sparked a crisis in the institutions which saw unionist ministers resigning or stepping aside and an end to cabinet meetings in Belfast.

On Sunday, Mr Kenny said he hoped a deal over issues like paramilitarism, welfare reform and stabilising the Northern Ireland budget could be struck within the next couple of days. 

A vexed budget wrangle has left the power-sharing administration in Belfast facing an unsustainable black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds.

A resolution to the long-standing impasse over the Executive's failure to implement the Government's welfare reforms in Northern Ireland will be crucial to any breakthrough.

Exchanges involving the Government, the DUP and Sinn Fein have been ramped up in recent days.

It is understood Stormont's leaders want the Government to commit extra funding to the power-sharing Executive, both resource and capital, as part of any settlement.

The wider negotiations, which have been on-going for weeks, are also trying to find a way forward on other problems causing the current instability at Stormont, including a row over how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

While it is understood progress has been made in a number of areas, the fate of the negotiations still hangs in the balance.