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US adds its voice to calls for Stormont agreement

By Jonny Bell

The US Government has urged the Northern Ireland parties to use the pause in the talks to get power-sharing back up and running as soon as possible.

It comes after Secretary of State James Brokenshire announced a pause in talks to allow for the June 8 general election.

In a statement, the US State Department said: "The pause in talks to form a government in Northern Ireland allows time for planning a constructive, co-operative way forward. The United States urges all political parties in the region to establish a power-sharing government soon after talks resume in June.

"The people of Northern Ireland deserve a representative, effective and responsive devolved government. It is vital to build on the political and economic progress made since the Good Friday Agreement, as well as to build a better, shared future for the region's citizens.

"We appreciate the UK and Irish Governments' ongoing engagement and continue to offer our strong support for peace, reconciliation and prosperity in Northern Ireland."

Seven weeks of talks led by the London and Dublin have made progress on issues like dealing with the legacy of thousands of conflict murders and on developing a Programme for Government.

The DUP and Sinn Fein are in dispute over an Irish Language Act, although the former has begun meeting non-political language campaigners over a law.

June 29 is the latest deadline set by the British Government for formation of a ministerial Executive at Stormont.

Public services are being run by civil servants on a proportion of their true budget because there are no ministers to make decisions. Teachers have warned of major job losses, and the health service is also threatened.

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