Belfast Telegraph

Stormont talks are at a critical phase: Coveney

By Staff Reporters

Talks aimed at restoring powersharing at Stormont have reached a "sensitive" point, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney, who has been involved in the negotiation process along with Secretary of State James Brokenshire, said the DUP and Sinn Fein "want to make the process work" but that they still face "real challenges".

"There are sensitive discussions happening today. I am somewhat cautious in what I am saying. I don't think it would be helpful to make a running commentary today," Mr Coveney told the Seanad in Dublin.

He warned that a "critical phase" for the devolved institutions have been reached.

"Ten months have now passed. It means the people of Northern Ireland are not being served by an elected and accountable devolved government.

"This is not a sustainable position for much longer. This is a most critical point for the devolved institutions and peace process as a whole," added Mr Coveney.

Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly warned that Northern Ireland has been "further polarised" by Brexit. "The Good Friday Agreement has been held hostage. Unfortunately the future for Northern Ireland is neither clear nor bright," he said.

Stormont collapsed in January following the resignation of the late Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister in a row over the DUP's handling of a botched renewable heat energy scheme.

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