Belfast Telegraph

May seeks to allay peace process fears over DUP alliance

The PM’s comments came after Sir John Major warned an alliance with the DUP risked undermining the impartiality of the UK Government.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
DUP leader Arlene Foster and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: DUP leader Arlene Foster checks her watch as she and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. Discussions between the DUP and the Conservative party are continuing in the wake of the UK general election as Prime Minister Theresa May looks to form a government with the help of the Democratic Unionist party's ten Westminster seats. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration.Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (L), and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017, for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Theresa May. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with the DUP on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (R), and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017, for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Theresa May. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with the DUP on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: DUP leader Arlene Foster checks her watch as she arrives at 10 Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. Discussions between the DUP and the Conservative party are continuing in the wake of the UK general election as Prime Minister Theresa May looks to form a government with the help of the Democratic Unionist party's ten Westminster seats. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (L), and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017, for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Theresa May. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with the DUP on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox arrives at 10 Downing Street in London for a Cabinet meeting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 13, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Gauke arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with a hardline Northern Irish party on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with a hardline Northern Irish party on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice David Lidington arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire arrives at Downing Street on June 13, 2017 in London, England. The Prime Minister has re-shuffled her cabinet after the snap general election which failed to return a clear overall majority winner. Theresa May is set to meet Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster later today in hope of making an agreement to form a minority Government. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 13, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into difficult talks with a hardline Northern Irish party on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 12: DUP leader Arlene Foster holds a press conference at Stormont Castle as the Stormont assembly power sharing negotiations reconvene following the general election on June 12, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Discussions between the DUP and the Conservative party are also continuing in the wake of the UK general election as Prime Minister Theresa May looks to form a government with the help of the Democratic Unionist parties ten Westminster seats. Stormont and the political situation in Northern Ireland has been in limbo following the collapse of the power sharing executive due to the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme scandal which implicated the DUP. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Theresa May insisted the Government was “absolutely steadfast” in its commitment to the Northern Irish peace process as she faced questions on whether a DUP-Tory alliance would put fragile agreements at risk.

The Prime Minister’s comments came after predecessor Sir John Major warned that an alliance with the DUP at Westminster risked undermining the impartiality of the UK Government as attempts were made to restore the powersharing administration in Stormont.

An agreement between the Tories and DUP is thought to be close, with Mrs May saying the talks had been “productive” and emphasising the need for “stability” in government.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who travelled to Westminster for talks with the Tories on Tuesday, said she hoped a deal could be reached “sooner rather than later”.

Conservative former Prime Minister Sir John, who was crucial in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, raised concerns about the impact of a Tory deal with the DUP.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “The last thing anybody wishes to see is one or other of the communities so aggrieved that the hardmen, who are still there lurking in the corners of the communities, decide that they wish to return to some form of violence.”

But speaking during a visit to Paris to meet French president Emmanuel Macron, Mrs May told reporters: “We as Government remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the Belfast Agreement and the subsequent agreements and we continue to work with all the parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in ensuring that we can continue to put in place those measures necessary to fulfil those agreements.

“What we are doing in relation to the productive talks that we are holding with the Democratic Unionist Party is ensuring that it is possible to, with their support, give the stability to the UK Government that I think is necessary at this time.

“We stand at a critical time with those Brexit negotiations starting only next week – I think that stability is important.

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“We have worked as a party with the DUP before and those are productive talks. The intent is to ensure that we have the stability of Government in the national interest.”

Before travelling to the French capital, Mrs May had been leading the talks with the DUP.

Mrs Foster arrived in Downing Street with Nigel Dodds at lunchtime for negotiations with the Prime Minister but they decamped to Parliament to allow Mrs May and the DUP’s deputy leader to speak in the Commons.

The DUP leader said: “There’s been a lot of commentary around the issues that we are talking about and it won’t surprise anyone that we are talking about matters that pertain, of course, to the nation generally.

“Bringing stability to the UK government in and around issues around Brexit, obviously around counter-terrorism, and then doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters.”

The Prime Minister did not mention the ongoing deliberations as she addressed MPs but called on Parliament to “come together in a spirit of national unity” to deal with the challenges facing the country.

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