North­ern Ire­land:

DUP and SF dead­locked as dead­line in the talks on restor­ing pow­er­shar­ing passes North­ern Sec­re­tary says two par­ties will con­tinue talks this morn­ing

The Irish Times - - Front Page - GERRY MO­RI­ARTY and AMANDA FER­GU­SON

The DUP and Sinn Féin are dead­locked as another dead­line in the talks on restor­ing pow­er­shar­ing at Stor­mont is about to be bro­ken:

The DUP and Sinn Féin re­mained dead­locked on restor­ing pow­er­shar­ing at Stor­mont last night as another dead­line in the talks passed.

North­ern Sec­re­tary James Bro­ken­shire, who had set a mid­night dead­line for strik­ing a deal on a new As­sem­bly and Ex­ec­u­tive, said the North’s two largest par­ties would con­tinue talks in the morn­ing and that he would “re­assess the po­si­tion” tonight.

Mr Bro­ken­shire said “fur­ther progress” was made dur­ing yes­ter­day’s talks and that the two par­ties made “cer­tain ad­di­tional re­quests of the UK gov­ern­ment which we need to con­sider”.

“In light of this, I be­lieve it is right to de­fer the as­sess­ment on whether to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to par­lia­ment this week to en­able an Ex­ec­u­tive to be formed.”

Ear­lier, the DUP has said it will not ac­cept “a bad agree­ment cob­bled to­gether to sud­denly suit the timeta­bles of oth­ers” and called for Mr Bro­ken­shire to set a bud­get

Mr Bro­ken­shire had warned on Oc­to­ber 19th that with­out a deal he would have to leg­is­late for a bud­get for North­ern Ire­land at West­min­ster. Sinn Féin pres­i­dent Gerry Adams, how­ever, has warned if Mr Bro­ken­shire started bring­ing in a bud­get at West­min­ster then this phase of the talks would end.

Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Theresa May had ear­lier pro­vided some wrig­gle room by in­di­cat­ing the lat­est dead­line could be stretched fur­ther into the week to de­ter­mine if the DUP and Sinn Féin could end the im­passe. North­ern Ire­land pol­i­tics has largely been stalled since the late Sinn Féin deputy first min­is­ter Martin McGuinness re­signed in Jan­uary at the height of the con­tro­versy over the botched Re­new­able Heat In­cen­tive scheme.

Ms May’s spokesman said yes­ter­day progress had been made but that “there are still sig­nif­i­cant gaps which re­main and we con­tinue to work with them to over­come th­ese”.

Se­nior Sinn Féin politicians from the South – TDs Mary Lou McDon­ald and Pearse Do­herty and MEP Matt Carthy – joined their North­ern col­leagues at Stor­mont yes­ter­day.

Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs Si­mon Coveney was also present and of­fered to as­sist the two par­ties to­wards an ac­com­mo­da­tion on a wide range of is­sues such as deal­ing with the past, same-sex mar­riage and a bill of rights for the North.

Main ob­sta­cle

The main ob­sta­cle to a deal re­mains Sinn Féin’s de­mand for a free-stand­ing Ir­ish lan­guage act which is at vari­ance with the DUP’s in­sis­tence that any such leg­is­la­tion must be linked to other lan­guage is­sues such as Ul­ster Scots.

In a Twit­ter post Mr Coveney said yes­ter­day was an im­por­tant day for North­ern Ire­land while adding that “with po­lit­i­cal will and a will­ing­ness to work to­gether on all sides there is a deal to be done”.

A DUP spokesman said it wanted to see an Ex­ec­u­tive set up and warned Sinn Féin “will have to re­alise that an agree­ment will only be pos­si­ble when they drop red line de­mands. We will con­tinue our dis­cus­sions on the ba­sis we be­lieve devo­lu­tion is best for North­ern Ire­land. Given Sinn Féin have dragged their feet over the last 10 months the Sec­re­tary of State should bring for­ward a bud­get to bring a mea­sure of good gov­ern­ment to North­ern Ire­land.”

Sinn Féin’s Conor Mur­phy said a deal can be done but it “needs to be a deal for all in our so­ci­ety and not just for the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ships of union­ism”.

Si­mon Coveney: of­fer to as­sist par­ties to­wards an ac­com­mo­da­tion

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