Belfast Telegraph

Charlie Flanagan sees chance to deal with legacy issues 'once and for all'

A chance to resolve divisive legacy issues "once and for all" will arise over the next few days, Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

Mr Flanagan said a lot of challenges remain in terms of restoring the powersharing government at Stormont before the deadline at 4pm on Monday.

However, he insisted he was optimistic that agreement could be reached over the weekend.

He also said there was an opportunity to finally resolve outstanding legacy issues.

"This is an opportunity to deal with legacy issues once and for all. We owe it to the victims and survivors and communities across Northern Ireland," he said.

Talks have resumed between the political parties and the Irish and British governments and are expected to continue throughout the weekend.

If no agreement is reached by Monday, another snap election may have to be called.

"It is imperative we reach agreement on Monday," said Mr Flanagan.

"The statutory situation is quite clear. Monday at 4pm is the deadline after which the Secretary of State has to acknowledge the legal position.

"Often minds are focused intensively once clocks are ticking loudly and once deadlines are looming. We are now entering that phase and I believe it is incumbent upon everyone to engage in a way

Despite the tight deadline, there have still been no round table talks of the political leaders.

However, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he believed a deal was still "very doable."

He also praised the DUP leader Arlene Foster for attending the funeral of Martin McGuinness on Thursday.

"Yesterday was a very good start, by turning up and showing respect to Martin McGuinness' family," said Mr Eastwood.

"That was met by applause. The people of Derry understood it was a significant moment."

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said there are a number of issues where he can see common ground and where resolution can be achieved.

"But there are other issues that still remain to be resolved in order for an executive to be formed on Monday," he said.

"We also have a duty to survivors and victims to come forward with proposals to deal with the past."

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