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Stormont deal 'must be agreed this month'

By Noel McAdam

Published 03/10/2015

Deadline: David Cameron
Deadline: David Cameron

David Cameron increased pressure on Stormont parties last night by declaring this month as the deadline for the latest talks.

It signals that the Government is not prepared to allow the negotiations to drag on to Christmas for the third year in a row.

The Prime Minister said he had set a deadline for the end of October because otherwise the Assembly would become "stalled".

He told also BBC NI there had been "good progress" at the negotiations over welfare reform and other issues, which are now entering their third week.

But Mr Cameron also reiterated that the Government would not provide additional money to try to resolve the deadlock."We are being as generous as we can be," he said. "What we cannot do is fund a more generous system paid for by everybody else."

Asked whether Westminster would take over the welfare payments system if there were no agreement, the PM added: "We have said we will always do what is necessary and what is right".

"What should happen under devolution is that the parties in Northern Ireland should agree the way forward."

Mr Cameron said it was apparent all the parties wanted the Assembly and Executive to work but "everyone knows they are not currently delivering properly for the people of Northern Ireland".

His warning came as it emerged DUP ministers have collectively resigned and been re-appointed 18 times. Health Minister Simon Hamilton alone has resigned and been re-appointed four times over the past few weeks.

Only Arlene Foster has been allowed to remain in post, doubling up as acting First Minister and Finance Minister in what DUP leader Peter Robinson described as a "gatekeeper" role.

Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy was the first person to quit the Executive after a PSNI assessment that the IRA were involved in Kevin McGuigan's death.

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