North Ireland justice deal ends political crisis
An agreement that will give Belfast its first justice minister by April 12 was reached late on Thursday after nearly two weeks of talks between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the nationalist Sinn Fein.
"This is the day we have secured the future, lasting peace and power sharing as it should be in Northern Ireland," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news conference at Hillsborough Castle, outside Belfast where he and his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen endorsed the accord.
Failure to get a deal would almost certainly have triggered a snap election in the British province where former foes, the predominantly Roman Catholic Sinn Fein and the mainly Protestant DUP, share power.
"This agreement is a sure sign that we are not going back to the bad old days," Northern Ireland's First Minister, the DUP's Peter Robinson said.
"No future generation would forgive us for squandering the peace that has been so long fought for."
'MOST IMPORTANT DEAL OF ALL'