Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire moves deadline as Stormont negotiations between Sinn Fein and DUP end with no deal

The DUP and Sinn Fein have been given extra time by Secretary of State James Brokenshire to reach a deal to restore powersharing at Stormont.

Mr Brokenshire said "further progress had been made" after Northern Ireland's two main parties left Stormont on Monday night having not reached agreement and failing to meet the latest deadline.

Earlier Mr Brokenshire had warned both parties that unless there was a breakthrough before the end of Monday the only option remaining would be to legislate for a budget for the region at Westminster.

However on Monday night he announced he was extending that deadline.

Mr Brokenshire said: “The parties have made further progress during the course of today. They are making certain additional requests of the UK Government which we need to consider.

“In the light of this, I believe it is right to defer the assessment on whether to introduce legislation to Parliament this week to enable an Executive to be formed. The parties will recommence talks in the morning and I will reassess the position tomorrow night.”

Neither party spoke to the media as they left.

Stormont collapsed in January following the resignation of the late Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.

Since then a series of talks and negotiations have taken place and a range of deadlines have been missed with no deal in place.

The main stumbling block centres on calls for an Irish Language Act.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said her party would not return to power-sharing without an agreed Irish Language Act.

However, DUP leader Arlene Foster rejected the proposal, instead suggesting a "cross-community" Bill with provisions for Irish and Ulster-Scots. But Sinn Fein insists it will only agree to stand-alone Irish language legislation.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty have joined the party's negotiating team in Belfast.

Both James Brokenshire and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney have been holding meetings with the parties throughout the day.

The region's smaller parties held a meeting earlier in the day to discuss the lack of openness and transparency in the talks negotiations.

On Monday morning, ahead of the resumption of talks, the DUP called on Mr Brokenshire to set a budget to ensure a "measure of good government" in the region.

The party said it will not accept "a bad agreement cobbled together to suddenly suit the timetables of others".

"Our position has not changed we want to see an executive set up - we would have done it March and sorted these issues in tandem," said the party in a statement.

"Given Sinn Fein have dragged their feet over the last 10 months, the Secretary of State should bring forward a budget to bring a measure of good government to Northern Ireland," the statement added.

The DUP said it will continue the discussions as it believes "devolution is best for Northern Ireland".

But it warned it would not be a part of a "bad agreement cobbled together to suddenly suit the timetables of others".

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said while a deal can still be done it "needs to be a deal for all in our society and not just for the political leaderships of unionism".

He added: "If the political institutions are to be sustainable then they must be restored on the basis of equality, rights and respect.

"That requires an end to the DUP's denial of rights citizens enjoy everywhere else on these islands, language rights, marriage rights and the right to a coroner's court."

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said the government is still working with the parties on reaching an agreement.

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