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Downing Street not ruling out PM Theresa May Northern Ireland visit

By Jonny Bell

Downing Street has not ruled out the possibility Theresa May could visit Northern Ireland, however, she is unlikely to do so ahead of the triggering of Article 50 on Wednesday.

On Monday evening RTE reported that there were no plans for a visit from the Prime Minister before she formally begins the process of leaving the European Union, scheduled for 12.30pm on Wednesday.

Mrs May had planned to visit the devolved regions ahead of the historic move and was in Scotland on Monday.

However, asked on Tuesday morning if there would be a visit either before or after Wednesday, a Downing Street spokesman said there were no plans for a visit on Tuesday. He would not disclose if there were plans for a future visit.

Alliance leader Naomi Long has said it would be bizarre if Theresa May visited Northern Ireland in her Brexit tour and did not get involved in the current political deadlock which saw the parties fail to resurrect the Executive ahead of Monday's deadline.

More: If Theresa May refuses to take part in talks during Northern Ireland visit it'll show just how little she cares: Naomi Long

"It is quite surreal to think Theresa May would visit at a time when the very future of power-sharing hangs in the balance, yet not feel compelled to actively participate in the current talks process," Mrs Long said.

"It suggests a Prime Minister who is either oblivious to the perilous state of devolution, or simply doesn't care."

James Brokenshire is to update the Commons on the situation in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. He has said there is a "short window" of opportunity for a deal to be made.

More: Theresa May vows to build a more united nation after Brexit

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