Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May 'makes clear' importance of restoring Stormont in call to Foster and O'Neill

By Jonathan Bell

Prime Minister Theresa May has "made clear" the importance of restoring the Northern Ireland political institutions to both Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill.

The Prime Minister spoke with the DUP and Sinn Fein leader in separate phone calls on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Number 10 said it was "made clear" to both the importance of restoring power sharing as soon as possible.

“The Prime Minister spoke on the phone with the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster and the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill," said a spokeswoman.

“In separate phone calls the Prime Minister made clear the importance of restoring a power-sharing Executive to Northern Ireland as soon as possible and she recognised their continued leadership towards reaching agreement.

“They discussed key outstanding issues that remain for both parties and the Prime Minister encouraged both leaders to come to an agreement soon in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

“The Prime Minister assured them both that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties towards a successful outcome.”

It had been reported Theresa May would visit Northern Ireland this week to hold talks. Given the latest intervention that now seems unlikely.

The Northern Ireland government has been suspended since the resignation of Martin McGuinness in January. Talks have been ongoing since a snap election in March.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire faces having to decide to call another election or introduce direct rule in the coming weeks if no resolution can be found.

He has described the return of direct rule as a "retrograde step" and that if the stalemate continues, he will have to consider continuing MLAs' pay.

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