Ireland, Britain to seek re-establishing Northern Ireland talks

No honeymoon Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein is to meet with both the Irish and United Kingdom governments today, 15 February, after DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed talks to restore power-sharing in NI had failed.

Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, claimed her party had stretched themselves and had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP before they collapsed the talks.

"While substantive progress has been made, it appears this phase of talks has reached a conclusion", Britain's Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley told reporters.

It is 13 months since Northern Ireland's devolved government collapsed.

Ms Villiers claimed there is a way to deliver a solution that suits both sides, adding: I don't think the parties are a million miles away from delivering that legislation that Sinn Fein really wants.

She announced in a statement on Wednesday: "In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an executive being formed".

The DUP, who prop up the minority Conservative government at Westminster, have also called the Prime Minister's visit to Belfast on Monday as a distraction during power-sharing talks. If direct rule were imposed, it would be for the first time since 2007, when Tony Blair was prime minister, the BBC says.

The prospect of direct rule would complicate Theresa May's shaky confidence-and-supply coalition deal with Foster.

Many fear a return to British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists who, until past year, had run the province since 2007 under the terms of the 1998 accord that mostly ended decades of sectarian conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.

Mrs Foster has insisted it is now incumbent on Westminster to begin direct rule in the continued absence of a devolved administration.

The Northern Ireland parties are at loggerheads - mainly over Sinn Fein's demands for new legislation to promote the Irish language - and the Belfast Telegraph says Downing Street will have to take "decisive action" next week when Parliament returns from recess.

Ireland's foreign minister said that as co-guarantors of the 1998 peace deal, both governments have an obligation to uphold the letter and spirit of that agreement and that Dublin must "reflect in the coming days on how best to do that".



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