The viability of the Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government in Northern Ireland is in doubt after several parties voted to reject a proposal to adjourn the government.

The vote Thursday raises the likelihood that the government will collapse or be suspended because of the impasse.

First Minister Peter Robinson, the leader of the Democratic Unionists, has said his ministers will resign unless adjournment or suspension is reached.

The withdrawal of his ministers would bring down the power-sharing government, a cornerstone of the historic 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement. A collapse could lead to the return of direct British rule from Westminster.

The crisis has intensified with police suggestions that Irish Republic Army dissidents were involved in a recent murder. Several prominent figures have been arrested in recent days. Crisis talks are continuing.