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Flanagan fears UK general election could hit Stormont powersharing talks

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he is concerned the snap UK general election will hit Stormont powersharing talks.

Mr Flanagan said he raised the issue in a phone call with Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire following the shock announcement that the UK would go to the polls on June 8.

He said political parties will switch from negotiating to campaign mode.

"The Secretary of State told me that his intention, announced last week, remains unchanged - namely, to bring forward legislation at Westminster in the coming days which will include a provision to allow a Northern Ireland Executive to be formed in early May," the minister said.

"While this will legislatively facilitate the formation of an Executive, I am conscious of the political reality that all of the parties involved in the talks will now be competing in a general election and mindsets will inevitably shift to campaign mode."

Mr Flanagan said Dublin remained committed to "ensuring the best possible outcome for Ireland in the upcoming Brexit negotiations".

He is due in Belfast on Thursday for renewed contacts with the political parties after the Easter deadline for a powersharing deal was lifted.

"Nevertheless, it is the firm hope of the Irish Government that the talks process can continue and conclude successfully in the coming days. The interests of the people of Northern Ireland are best served by having a devolved Executive and Assembly," he said.

"This is the case regardless of the electoral cycle at Westminster."

Mr Flanagan said this would be his message to the Northern Ireland politicians when he meets them later in the week.

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