Belfast Telegraph

DUP: Powersharing deal unlikely in coming days

A significant amount of work remains to bridge gaps between the main parties in powersharing negotiations.

A deal to restore the Stormont institutions in the coming days is unlikely, the DUP said (Paul Faith/PA
A deal to restore the Stormont institutions in the coming days is unlikely, the DUP said (Paul Faith/PA

By Michael McHugh, PA

A deal to restore the Stormont institutions in the coming days is unlikely, the DUP has said.

A significant amount of work remains to bridge gaps between the main parties in powersharing negotiations taking place in Belfast.

The place of the Irish language in society and measures to boost the ailing health service in Northern Ireland are among the issues under discussion.

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said there was little prospect of a deal to restore the Stormont institutions in the next hours or days.

There is still a significant amount of work to do, gaps remain, for our part we are committed to bridging those gaps Gordon Lyons

A roundtable session involving the main Stormont parties to the negotiations is due to take place on Thursday evening.

Mr Lyons said: “There is still a significant amount of work to do, gaps remain, for our part we are committed to bridging those gaps.

“We are willing to work with other people, we are willing to work over the next number of days into the next week – however long it takes.

“For us the important thing is not meeting a deadline but getting a deal which is fair and balanced and can get the support of people right across the community – that is what we are aiming to do.”

Stormont has not sat for almost three years.

It collapsed in a row over the mishandling of a green energy scheme.

The British and Irish Governments are leading efforts to restore the devolved institutions.

Mr Lyons added: “I don’t think there is going to be a deal in the next number of hours or the next number of days.”

He said the DUP was not imposing any deadlines or red lines.

“If we can find an agreement, if we can find something that is sustainable and fair that is great but right now our focus is on making sure we get that deal and not go into any deadlines, artificial or otherwise.”

Senior Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy said his party believed a deal can be done this side of Christmas.

“I believe that view is shared by both Governments and at least three of the other parties,” he said.

“I don’t understand why the DUP are telling the media that this has to be closed down for Christmas.

“There is an onus on us all to reach an agreement to address the outstanding issues and get back into the institutions and have them working for all the people.”

PA

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