Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and  Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers have decided to invite the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance to the meeting after it became clear  that local politicians had no idea how to end a stalemate linked to the Stormont House Agreement. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times.

Five main NI party leaders invited to talks with Villiers and Flanagan next week

The funeral of journalist Martin O’Hagan whose 2001  murder featured in a Panorama programme. Former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan has claimed that “hundreds and hundreds” of deaths happened in Northern Ireland as a result of security force collusion.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Nuala O’Loan says some paramilitaries recruited as informants were ‘serial killers’

DUP ministers Arlene Foster, Simon Hamilton, Jonathan Bell and Michelle McIlveen after an Executive meeting at Storming Castle as Northern Ireland’s  ministers fail to agree a budget for public spending for next year. Photograph: PA

DUP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance blame Sinn Féin for crisis

Daniel and Amy McArthur of the Ashers Baking Company. The company was found guilty of discrimination against a gay rights advocate by refusing to bake him a cake with a slogan promoting same-sex marriage. Photograph: Stephen Kilkenny/PA Wire

Belfast company prosecuted for refusing to bake cake featuring same-sex marriage message

Theresa  Villiers said there was still  time to try to break  political deadlock in Stormont while indicating that ultimately she may take over control of welfare.   File photograph: Hannah McKay/EPA

Martin McGuinness warns Northern Secretary a takeover would be ‘huge mistake’

Police Federation for Northern Ireland Mark Lindsay told the federation’s annual conference in Belfast:  “You cannot savage the bottom line and expect performance and delivery to remain unaffected.”

Combating terror not served well by best accounting practices, conference told

 Minister for Finance Arlene Foster  warned that rejection of the welfare proposals would create an unsustainable £604 million (€854 million) deficit in the Stormont budget. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sinn Féin joins forces with SDLP and Green MLA to veto reform proposals

Peter Robinson underwent a procedure for a heart condition on Monday. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Minister says debate must proceed despite Stormont deadlock over welfare reform

Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory  apologises to the three women who were “let down” by the North’s Public Prosecution Service

Barra McGrory apologises to Cahill over ‘cock-up not conspiracy’

Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory apologises to three woman who accused an alleged IRA member of abusing them as children,  after a damning report criticised how  the  prosecution was handled at the Public Prosecution Service offices in Belfast. Photograph: Gerry Moriarty/The Irish Times

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt says DPP Barra McGrory should ‘consider his position’

Maíria Cahill outside the Dáil. The North’s DPP Barra McGrory, QC, has apologised to Ms Cahill  and two other women over how the PPS dealt with criminal allegations that they were sexually abused by an IRA member. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Independent review finds that abused women were ‘let down by the PPS and counsel’

The Prince of Wales meets Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Photograph: Adam Gerrard/Daily Mirror/PA wire

Royal couple continue theme of peace and reconciliation as visit moves to the North

 Theresa Villiers, who met senior representatives from the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance at Stormont today. Photograph: Hannah McKay

Peter Robinson warns Northern Executive and Assembly could collapse next week

Bert and Ernie on the “Support Gay Marriage” cake. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan.

The law is no trifling pursuit, so why did NI’s legal system concern itself with that cake?

Charles with his beloved great uncle Lord Mountbatten in July 1979: when the prince takes a tour of Classiebawn Castle he may recall the many stories Mountbatten told him about the place where he and his extended family holidayed every August. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Prince planned secret visit in submarine in years after Mountbatten’s death

Judge Brownlie said Ashers was not a religious organisation but was “in business for profit”. She found that the company was “guilty of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation”. Photograph: Getty Images

Northern Ireland bakery now deciding whether to appeal judge’s ruling

The bakery refused to make a cake with this image on it.

Christian-owned Belfast bakery refused to make cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan

Munster’s Paul O’Connell scores a try. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘If I did have a fiver to bet, probably the price of a coffee in Ireland, I’d have it on Munster’

The SDLP said they have deep concerns that the DUP is attempting to influence the Tory British bill of rights to create a “right to parade” in exchange for support for their slim Commons majority. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister emphasises governments’ duty to safeguard human rights dimension of pact

File photograph of SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell. Photograph: PA

Dr Alasdair McDonnell says he ‘will win’ if challenged

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson has carried out a significant reshuffle of DUP ministerial posts in the North’s Executive. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Foster, who moves to Finance, and Hamilton, now in Health, viewed as potential successors to Robinson as First Minister

Piper Gary McDonald and (L to R) Dr Frank Costello, Rev Jack Lamb and  Jim McAuley at the ceremony remembering victims of the Famine  buried in Shankill Graveyard

‘I always thought the Famine was in the south. Here it was sort of airbrushed’

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers. UK prime minister David Cameron has confirmed that Ms Villiers is to continue in her position.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

David Cameron tweets confirmation that minister will continue in her position

Northern Secretary, Theresa Villiers said the Stormont House Agreement must be enforced. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

NI parties assess Westminster results to determine prospects in next Assembly elections

DUP Leader Peter Robinson celebrates with MPs  Nigel Dodds and Gavin Robinson at the Kings Hall in Belfast. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Cameron’s overall majority has severely dented Robinson’s DUP prediction

DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates with MPs (left to right) Sammy Wilson, Nigel Dodds, Gavin Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson at the Kings Hall in Belfast. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

McCrea lost out to Kinahan, the only UUP member to back same sex marriage

Significant changes in electoral arithmetic

Nigel Dodds (centre) celebrates with DUP leader Peter Robinson (right) and Gavin Robinson (left). Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

DUP deputy leader elected with 19,096 votes, 5,000 more than Kelly

An independent review into how the North’s Public Prosecution Service dealt with three cases of alleged sexual abuse by an IRA man against Maíria Cahill (pictured) and two other women is to be published shortly, the PPS has confirmed. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

North’s Public Prosecution Service received report on Wednesday from Keir Starmer QC

Sinn Féin party leader Gerry Adams. The party   mainly blames dissident republicans for  recent intimidation and attacks on homes and property of party politicians in Northern Ireland. File photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Latest in a series of threats and attacks on homes and property of Sinn Féin politicians

A PSNI officer watches over the scene of the fatal shooting of former senior IRA figure, Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison on Welsh Street in the Markets area of Belfast on Tuesday. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Suspect being questioned by PSNI serious crime detectives

First Minister Peter Robinson has built up the possible role of the DUP after the election.

Party says there will be no change in its Westminster abstentionist policy

Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison was viewed as an assertive figure in the area and would not have been universally popular. Photograph: Daily Ireland

Victim was questioned in connection with 33-year-old Robert McCartney killing in 2005

Mike Nesbitt (UUP leader); Naomi Long (Alliance); Mark Durkan (SDLP); Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) and Nigel Dodds (DUP deputy leader) take part in a televised election debate chaired by BBC presenter. Photograph: William Cherry/BBC Northern Ireland via Getty Images

SF does not want to ‘bestow legitimacy’ on Britain having sovereignty over NI

Liam Adams has lost an appeal at the High Court in Belfast against his conviction and sentence for raping and abusing his daughter. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Adams (60) sought to have 16-year conviction for rape of daughter Áine overturned

Forensic officers in Welsh Street, in the Markets area near Belfast city centre following the fatal shooting of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, a former IRA commander. Photograph: PA Wire

Former IRA commander was shot a ‘number of times’ as children were going to school

DUP candidate Ian Paisley jnr walks along the Dark Hedges whilst out canvassing  in Ballymoney, Co Antrim. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Voters across 18 constituencies could have big say in make-up of new parliament

Naomi Long: “I’m quite happy to start as the underdog.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Sitting MP Naomi Long faces uphill struggle to retain seat against unity unionist rival

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell is  accused by his Sinn Féin adversary of being “one of the worst attendees at Westminster”. Photograph: The Irish Times

Intriguing contest in which SF’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir capable of running SDLP chief close

Two tribes: “North Belfast is starkly divided,” says Dodds. “I wouldn’t canvass on my own in Ardoyne, let’s put it that way.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Unionist pact may be enough for DUP man to hold seat ahead of Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly

Upper Bann constituency profile

DUP Health Minister Jim Wells (left) at Stormont on Monday. Photograph: Press Eye.

Health Minister resigns after complaints to PSNI about his remarks to lesbian couple

All DUP members  present voted against the motion, including First Minister and party leader Peter Robinson. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Sinn Féin motion defeated by majority of 49 votes to 47

DUP politician Jim Wells who has quit days after he sparked controversy with comments about gay marriage. Photograph: PA

Analysis: From the moment the comments emerged the DUP knew it faced electoral damage

More calls on Health Minister to resign as Assembly votes for fourth time on gay marriage

The  DUP’s Jim Wells, who has apologised for controversial remarks he made about gay marriage and child abuse. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Calls for resignation of Health Minister Jim Wells despite apology but party stands by him

Michelle Gildernew: after the courts examined the 2010 result her margin of victory over agreed unionist candidate Rodney Connor was reduced to a single vote. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

If there are more unionists on the register this could again be very close

The death has occurred of Desmond Boal, QC, who with his former friend, Ian Paisley established the Democratic Unionist Party in 1971

Along with Ian Paisley, the lawyer was a founding member of the DUP

Sinn Féin candidate for Newry and Armagh Mickey Brady: Says this is a “two horse race” between him and the UUP’s Danny Kennedy. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

From Daniel Craig to ‘catholic tastes’, a profile of the Newry and Armagh candidates

Sammy Wilson: Genial if also mischievous incumbent is favourite to secure the seat with a healthy majority. Photograph: The Irish Times

Outgoing Eurosceptic MP and DUP man can afford to enjoy campaign more than rivals

Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson speaks at the launch of the Democratic Unionist Party Election Manifesto at Wrightbus, supplier of the London Routemaster buses on April 21, 2015 in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

First Minister confident that DUP will regain East Belfast seat he lost to Naomi Long

Sinn Féin party leader Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness during the launch of the party’s General Election manifesto in Dungannon, CoTyrone on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Adams says that if issue goes to referendum in Britain, North should have separate vote

Durkan (54), who is in his third Westminster election campaign, having also served as deputy first minister, blames the DUP and Sinn Féin for the latest logjam. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/GettyImages

John Hume’s successor knows too well how Northern Ireland’s political rivalries work

Jeffrey Donaldson: Out every day canvassing the streets of Lisburn and towns and villages of his constituency. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Lagan Valley MP enjoys 10,000 majority but constituency to be contested by eight rivals

Margaret Ritchie:  Unionist support and determination to retain South Down should ensure she is returned. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

History suggests that several thousand unionist votes are likely to be cast for Ritchie

SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell. File photograph: PA

Party rules out supporting Cameron in government

After years of being beaten by John Hume, Gregory Campbell knows it pays to stick with it. Photograph: Eric Luke

DUP candidate for East Derry knows the benefits of publicity

Queen’s University Belfast is to cut its student intake by more than 1,000 and shed 236 jobs because of an £8 million reduction in its Stormont funding

236 academic and non-academic jobs to go because of budget cuts

Sinn Féin candidate for West Belfast Paul Maskey says dissidents have received a powerful message from his constituents. Photograph:  Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Successor to Gerry Adams in West Belfast insists he also works for loyalists from the Shankill

Lady Sylvia Hermon: her  vote in the House of Commons, if she is re-elected, could yield a high price on the electoral market place. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker

Peter Robinson believes someone should try to take on Sylvia Hermon

A young man and woman have been arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of a man was found in the boot of a car in south Belfast.

Two arrested on suspicion of murder

DUP leader Peter Robinson has agreed a pact agreed  Mike Nesbitt, which will see the UUP  stand aside in East Belfast and North Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance are the only parties that are contesting all constituencies

Has Michelle Gildernew secured Fermanagh-South Tyrone for Sinn Féin or could DUP-Ulster Unionist Party pact allow Tom Elliott to win it for UUP?

Naomi Long, Michelle Gildernew, Alasdair McDonnell face tough contests while Paul Maskey, Gregory Campbell, Ian Paisley Junior loo(...)

British prime minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha look at weapons during their visit to the ‘Game of Thrones’ television set in Belfast on Tuesday. Photograph: Reuters/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool

Westminster general election campaign cranks into gear in Northern Ireland

Air accident investigators are trying to determine the cause of an incident that left a pilot dead after a light plane crashed at Newtownards airfield in Co Down on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan/Photopress Belfast.

Microlight craft crashes shortly after takeoff at Newtownards airfield near Belfast

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron smiles as he eats breakfast during a visit to financial firm Scottish Widows in Edinburgh, Scotland on April 7th, 2015. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AFP/Getty Images

Says message is ‘there is one month to save the UK’ from Labour’s tax policy

Sinn Féin’s Arder Carson: Elected as the first Lord Mayor of Northern Ireland’s newest and biggest council

North’s 11 authorities formed in biggest local government shake-up in more than 40 years

MP Naomi Long is under considerable pressure to hold on to her seat in this election as the Ulster Unionist Party, in an electoral pact, has agreed not to stand in the constituency, giving the advantage to the DUP candidate Gavin Robinson. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Flags are not now an issue on the doorsteps, says MP Naomi Long

Contract law is ‘at the heart’ of the so-called ‘gay cake’ case, a lawyer acting for the Equality Commission and Gareth Lee in the action against Ashers Baking Company has contended. Photograph: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Contract law ‘at heart’ of case where bakery refused to make cake with message ‘Support Gay Marriage’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged to renew pressure on the British government to agree to an inquiry into the August 1971 Ballymurphy killings which resulted in 11 killings. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Taoiseach meets families of 11 people who were shot by British soldiers in 1971

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery arrive at Belfast County Court. Photograph: Stephen Kilkenny/PA Wire

Ashers Bakery says state obliged to protect people in cases of conscientious objection

Seán Lavery, tax partner at BDO; Adrian Doran, head of corporate banking at Barclays Northern Ireland; Colin Walsh chairman of  CBI Northern Ireland; Taoiseach Enda Kenny; and director general of the CBI John Cridland. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

UK exit from Europe would be ‘most profound issue’ for the North, says Kenny

Daniel McArthur (second right) of Asher’s Bakery and his wife Amy McArthur (right) along with family members leave court. Photograph: Getty

Cake with motto ‘Support Gay Marriage’ was against bakery’s ethos, court told

Gary Hart has said “you can’t attract 12 or 15 or 24 executive vice presidents of fairly substantial corporations to come over here for three or four days if there is confusion or lack of resolution on budgetary issues”. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Retired senator believes Robinson and McGuinness will do deal before UK election

File photo dated January 5th, 1976 of the bullet riddled minibus where 10 Protestant textile workers were shot shot dead in an IRA attack near the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976. Photograph: PA

Families of 10 Protestants killed in 1976 believe Government failed to properly police border

 Liam Adams who has begun an  appeal against his conviction and sentence for raping and sexually abusing his daughter. Photograph: PA

Lawyer alleges judge’s final direction to jury wasn’t clear during conviction appeal

Ashers, which has six shops employing 62 people, is being prosecuted for refusing to bake a cake with a slogan stating “Support Gay Marriage”. It was also to feature the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie, with their arms around one another. Photograph: Getty

So-called Bert and Ernie ‘gay cake’ court case opens on Thursday

Gerry Kelly MLA North Belfast: Northern Ireland Affairs Committee “comprised politicians all of whom oppose Sinn Féin”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

MLA for North Belfast says NI investigating committee’s report ‘politically driven’ attack

Poet Michael Longley speaking at the Ulster Hall, where he received the freedom of Belfast. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan/PhotopressBelfast

Michael D Higgins praises poet for his body of work and role in the Belfast Agreement

Two masked men, one believed to be armed with a handgun, were involved in the incident, according to the PSNI

SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness has described as ‘sickening and vile’

DUP Assembly member and East Derry MP Gregory Campbell. Mr Campbell has been censured in the Assembly for ‘blatantly disrespectful’ behaviour after yawning loudly as a Sinn Féin MLA spoke in Irish. Photograph: Trevor McBride

DUP Assembly member punished again after yawning as Sinn Féin MLA spoke in Irish

Lifelike: We start with the victim and end up directing a heavily armed Swat-type team about to hit on the main suspect. We get to deploy a surveillance helicopter. There’s even a car chase. Photograph: E+/Getty

The PSNI challenged journalists to solve a fictional murder using real policing techniques – and with the same pressures on time, (...)

Belfast city centre. Photograph: Nigel Andrews/Thinkstock

Van the Man, St George’s Market, CS Lewis, the Odyssey: a class from east Belfast have co-written a poem celebrating the things th(...)

East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said:  “I believe the prime minister should work to establish a cross-Border inquiry which could focus on the horrific crimes suffered by victims and the way in which cases were covered up by republicans.”  File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Maíria Cahill accuses Sinn Féin of ‘still not admitting covering up cases of abuse’

David Best’s wooden temple in Derry which will be set alight on the evening of Saturday, March 21st. Photograph: Martin McKeown/

Artist David Best brings Nevada desert ritual to the North

Former Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan has released a letter he says he sent in 2009 to Louth man Paudie McGahon, who told BBC Spotlight he was raped by an IRA man. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

In the letter dated April 27th 2009, Mr Morgan said he hoped Mr McGahon would contact gardaí about his allegations

Paudie McGahon claims he was raped by an IRA member.

Alleged victim says IRA brought its own psychiatrist to a “kangaroo court” and also offered to put a “bullet in the back of head”(...)

Theresa Villiers, Northern Secretary, says unless the disagreement over welfare in the North is solved, all sides are in “a pretty serious situation”.  Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.

Stormont in crisis as Sinn Féin withdraws backing for Bill to revamp welfare

At the Sinn Féin ardfheis in Derry last weekend. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Paudie McGahon says he was raped by IRA member

The Stormont House Agreement entailed the British government committing grants and loan-raising powers of £2 billion to allow the Northern Executive to cushion the effects of welfare reform, start a major public sector redundancy scheme, deal with the past, support shared and integrated education, and more besides. File photograph: Paul Faith

If NI politicians want to make life easier for welfare recipients, they must use existing funds

Paudie McGahon (40) from Co Louth pictured during the BBC Spotlight programme to be broadcast tonight. Photograph: BBC screengrab

Claim IRA subjected him to ‘kangaroo court’ and offered to kill alleged abuser

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan held telephone talks to try to solve the crisis. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister Flanagan seeks solution over new threat to Northern Executive and Assembly

Martin McGuinness said Sinn Féin would not be part of any agenda that punished the most vulnerable. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Martin McGuinness says Sinn Féin will oppose passage of welfare bill in Northern Assembly

A file image from the 1990s of former  Ulster Unionist leader James Molyneaux. Photograph: Reuters

Molyneaux led UUP from 1979 to 1995 and was one of the longest-serving leaders of the party

Gerry Adams and  Martin McGuinness after the latter’s address at the  ardfheis. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin Ardfheis: Buoyant gathering suggests the biggest threat to party now is hubris

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams addresses the party’s ardfheis at the Millenium Forum in Derry. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Party leader pledges to abolish water charges and property tax and introduce wealth tax

Sinn  Féin president Gerry Adams, Cllr Noeleen Reilly and Donegal TD Pearse Doherty TD at the Sinn Fein ardfheis in  Derry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Gildernew wants island-wide referendum during lifetime of next Dáil and Assembly

Potential partners: Peter Robinson with David Cameron in the Downing Street garden (bottom right) and with Ed Miliband in Belfast (bottom left); David Cameron formed his current coalition with Nick Clegg (top left); Robinson will be under pressure to deliver short-term gains to party colleagues frightened of Traditional Unionist Voice, the party of Jim Allister (top right). Photographs: Will Oliver/AFP/Getty, Charles McQuillan/Getty, Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty and Paul Faith/PA Wire

Peter Robinson and the Democratic Unionist Party are being wooed by David Cameron’s Conseratives and Ed Miliband’s Labour Party ah(...)

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness delivering an address at the opening of the Sinn Féin Ardfheis 2015 in Millennium Forum, Derry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness addresses party ardfheis

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