Europe

UK appeals for Belfast breakthrough to save power-sharing

  • FILE- In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 file photo, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, left, and Martin McGuinness speak to the media at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was plunged into crisis Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, as the senior Catholic leader announced he was quitting in a showdown with his Protestant colleague that could unravel a central achievement of peacemaking. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE- In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 file photo, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, left, and Martin McGuinness speak to the media at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was plunged into crisis Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, as the senior Catholic leader announced he was quitting in a showdown with his Protestant colleague that could unravel a central achievement of peacemaking. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Wednesday, March 5, 2008 file photo, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, attend the opening of the New Victoria Shopping complex in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster.
 (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE- In this Wednesday, March 5, 2008 file photo, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, attend the opening of the New Victoria Shopping complex in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE- In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

Britain's minister for Northern Ireland has appealed to rival leaders to save their failing unity government and prevent a snap election that will do nothing to solve the political crisis.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told lawmakers Tuesday that the surprise resignation of the Belfast coalition's senior Catholic politician means the British government in London will be legally obliged to dissolve the Northern Ireland Assembly — unless a Belfast breakthrough can be achieved within six days.

Brokenshire said: "The clock is ticking. If there is no resolution, an election is inevitable, despite the widely held view that this election may deepen divisions and threaten the continuity of the devolved institutions."

Protestant and Catholic leaders have shared power — the central goal of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord — since 2007.