‘CRUCIAL’ talks aimed at saving the political institutions in Northern Ireland are due to start today.
The political deadlock was sparked after the PSNI said members of the Provisional IRA shot dead 53-year-old Kevin McGuigan in the Short Strand district of east Belfast.
Unionist parties withdrew from the Executive and Peter Robinson stepped down temporarily as First Minister.
The DUP leader was admitted to hospital yesterday after taking a reaction to medication.
But he was released last night and will be attending the talks today.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has urged nationalist and unionist politicians not to let the opportunity to save the devolved power-sharing institutions “slip away”.
She said: “I recognise the scale of the task ahead. We are dealing with very difficult issues.
“But Northern Ireland’s political leaders have achieved great things over the past 20 years working together. That same spirit needs to be brought into these talks.
“We must not let this opportunity to build a brighter, more secure future for Northern Ireland slip away.”
On Friday, Ms Villiers announced an independent assessment of the structure and role of paramilitaries would be carried out, paving the way for fresh talks involving the five major parties.
Also on the agenda will be the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, including welfare reform.
“We must deal with continued activity by paramilitary organisations and bring about the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement,” Ms Villiers insisted on Sunday.
It is expected the negotiations, which are being facilitated by the British and Irish Governments, could last four weeks.