Belfast Telegraph

Bid to restore Stormont powersharing

It is expected talks could take place after local council elections in Northern Ireland on May 2.

Locked gates at Stormont in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)
Locked gates at Stormont in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

The British and Irish Governments are due to make an announcement later about a fresh bid to restore Stormont powersharing.

It is expected talks could take place after local council elections in Northern Ireland on May 2.

On Wednesday, Catholic peacemaking priest Father Martin Magill challenged politicians as to why it had taken the death of 29-year-old Lyra McKee to unite them, at her funeral.

Sinn Fein has rejected DUP leader Arlene Foster’s latest offer to break the political impasse in Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney are expected to hold a press conference later on Friday in Belfast.

Speaking in Derry, Ms Bradley told the BBC: “I think we need to make sure that politicians come together and do the right thing – do the right thing for the people of Northern Ireland and get back into government.”

And Mr Coveney told Irish broadcaster RTE: “I think both governments know they have a responsibility to work together to give both leadership and structure to help parties find a way of re-establishing a functioning Stormont and we will have more to say on this this afternoon.”

Mrs Foster wants a twin-track approach where the devolved institutions are restored quickly to deal with issues like running the health service, while a separate process addresses disagreements like that over same-sex marriage.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has rejected that and said issues like marriage equality and protection for the Irish language need to be delivered to pave the way for restoration of the devolved institutions.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Government hoped to bring the parties back together for talks “as soon as possible”.

“We have talked extensively about the importance of restoring powersharing in Northern Ireland and the Secretary of State in Northern Ireland is working very hard behind the scenes to try and get the parties back around the table.

“The Prime Minister has been involved directly: she travelled to Belfast in recent months and talked to all five party leaders.

“It’s more important than ever now that Northern Ireland has strong political leadership and we hope we’ll be able to bring the parties back together for talks as soon as possible.”

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DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The Stormont Assembly and ministerial Executive collapsed more than two years ago in a row between the former powersharing partners over a botched green energy scheme.

Multiple rounds of talks have failed to secure their restoration.

Sinn Fein leader Mary-Lou McDonald has said her party is ready to play a full part in a “serious and meaningful” talks process aimed at restoration.

The DUP has consistently called for devolution to be revived or for the UK Government to step in to make more decisions.

The Northern Ireland Secretary has already said she intends to hold discussions with Stormont’s party leaders.

They attended a vigil together in Londonderry after Miss McKee was shot dead by dissident republicans.

Mrs Foster has said Sinn Fein could not get everything it wanted, “a 5-0 victory”, and her party receive nothing.

PA

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