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A “panicked” Gordon Brown has “jetted” into Northern Ireland in an attempt to break the deadlock over the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to the formerly war-torn province, leads the Belfast Telegraph. Accompanied by Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Mr Brown led negociations between First Minister Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin “into the early hours of the morning”. His “dramatic intervention” comes amid concerns that Sinn Féin could “collapse the fragile power-sharing institutions” in which, under the terms of the St Andrew’s peace agreement, both parties, inimical to each other, must jointly govern the province.

Should the DUP not “agree to a swift transfer of the powers from Westminster,” it is feared that Sinn Féin will call a snap election for the Northern Ireland assembly. With the Northern Irish unionist vote currently split by the emergence of new political grouping Traditional Unionist Voice – which considers the DUP too lenient with former terrorists, Sinn Féin have most to gain in an election that could see them become the largest party in the province, with Martin McGuinness, former commander in chief of the IRA, taking the helm of a state he had sought to overthrow.