BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland leaders say they are close to reaching a new agreement to sustain their Catholic-Protestant government, but face all-night talks to see whether they can seal a deal.
Irish Catholic and British Protestant politicians have spent the past 11 weeks seeking to resolve a series of chronic disputes that threaten to destroy their 7 ½-year-old partnership. Their five-party coalition brought together former enemies in pursuit of lasting peace in Northern Ireland following three decades of bloodshed that left 3,700 dead.
Both sides, in turn, have pressed the British government in London to provide extra funding as the cornerstone for any new deal. Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Belfast talks last week and offered an extra 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in loans. Belfast's leaders rejected that as inadequate.