Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Gregory Campbell describes meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary of State as 'useful' and 'productive'

The DUP has described their meeting with the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State as "useful" and "productive" as talks resume in the latest bid to restore powersharing.

The British and Irish governments are engaging in a fresh attempt to put together a new deal involving the DUP and Sinn Fein.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell described the tone of the meeting with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State as "quite useful" and "quite productive" and said "There were no walkouts.

"It was useful but we need more than useful meetings. We need more productive meetings. We need an outcome."

Mr Campbell, one of the DUP's most senior negotiators, said the need to set a budget as well as financial difficulties facing Northern Ireland's health and education services had given an added impetus to the need for success.

"We have passed the time for talks, it is time to get government back up and running," he added.

The DUP was prepared to go into government without preconditions immediately, said Mr Campbell.

"Minds need to be concentrated now. We know what the issues are and we know what is sellable and doable.

"Now we needed to be sure to get to the finish line and get the product that both communities can live with," he said.

Speaking after their meeting with the Irish and British Governments SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the two Governments cannot go on "protecting the DUP and Sinn Fein."

He said: "The significant compromises they reached must be published to move the process forward.

“With crisis in our health service and victims of institutional abuse being denied justice, it is disgraceful that we are yet to hear from the DUP and Sinn Féin on what progress they have made in the talks process."

He said: "The SDLP is up for working with all parties to restore local government here but with people paying the price of political failure – we cannot negotiate blind. The details of the compromises made by the DUP and Sinn Féin must be made public.

“People deserve to know the truth – rather than watching press conference after press conference filled with no substance only mantra after mantra.

Mr Eastwood added: "Tonight many across the North will be asking themselves what are these parties hiding? Why are they afraid to tell the public the truth?"

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said he did not see any point in publishing any details on last autumn's DUP/Sinn Fein talks.

"We said last year we made progress in the talks, we said we haven't made enough progress, we were very clear about all of that," he said.

"But we have never conducted our negotiations in public and that has served negotiations well over the last 20 years, so I don't think it serves any point to conduct negotiations in public."

Mr Murphy indicated his party was positive about the DUP's stated approach to the new talks.

"We look forward to seeing that approach tomorrow when we engage with them," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said his party held a forthright and honest meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley during which they stressed the need for an inclusive five party talks process.

He said: "We won't simply be here as window dressing."

Mr Swann also called for clarity on progress made during previous negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

He added: "We see no point in joining a process to rehearse or regurgitate arguments and discussions that have already been. We need to see the baselines.

"There is no point going in and wasting another week and a half establishing or regurgitating arguments that have already been had."

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