Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire insists differences over Northern Ireland Executive 'relatively small'

By Noel McAdam

The sticking points preventing a restoration of the Stormont Executive are "relatively small", Secretary of State James Brokenshire has claimed.

Mr Brokenshire confirmed that the stalled talks on resolving the devolution crisis will resume next month, earlier than originally expected.

On his visit to the United States, the Secretary of State said he wanted to "press ahead" with renewed negotiations towards the end of August.

The five main Assembly parties - DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP and Alliance - had not anticipated serious meetings would restart until September.

In an article in the Irish Echo newspaper in the States, Mr Brokenshire said he intends to call a "further intensive engagement process" later next month.

"The UK Government, along-side our Irish partners, is determined to see devolved government re-established," he stressed.

The article also stated: "I want power to be exercised by those who should be exercising it: the Northern Ireland parties who have been elected by the people of Northern Ireland to provide devolved government there.

"The number of outstanding issues is relatively small, but the differences remain real. All parties have, however, emphasised their desire to remain engaged and to find a way to return to and resolve these issues.

"After a short break for the summer, I intend to press ahead with a further intensive engagement process later in August.

"Our overriding priority remains to reach agreement on restoring an inclusive power-sharing Executive - which is what the overwhelming majority of people across the community in Northern Ireland want, and what Northern Ireland needs."

Mr Brokenshire also made a pitch for the continuing success of the Northern Ireland economy and sought to allay concerns on Brexit.

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