Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Secretary of State: Short window of opportunity for parties to form Executive

Northern Ireland's parties fail to form a power-sharing Executive to restore devolution but the Secretary of State rules out an immediate snap election.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said a "short window of opportunity" exists to restore a power-sharing Executive.

Mr Brokenshire made a statement after the Stormont deadline for an Executive to be formed expired at 4pm.

It came after Monday's scheduled Assembly sitting was suspended after Sinn Fein walked away from the talks to form a new Executive on Sunday.

Read more: Northern Ireland Secretary of State - full statement

Mr Brokenshire ruled out a further snap election stating there was "no appetite" from the Northern Ireland public for this, having only recently gone to the polls and "delivered a very clear message wanting to see devolved government back on its feet again".

Mr Brokenshire said it was "extremely disappointing" that the Executive was not formed by the deadline and that there was an "overwhelming desire among the political parties and the public here for strong and stable devolved government".

He said: "We now have a short window of opportunity to resolve outstanding issues and for an Executive to be formed."

Outlining a time-frame for cross-party talks, he said: "On timing, there are a short few weeks in order to resolve matters.

"The reason I say that is because of the stark issue in relation to public services here in Northern Ireland and the lack of a budget having been set, and therefore it is the impact on public services on having an extended period that is very much at the forefront of my mind in terms of the responsibilities that we have as the UK Government to provide that assurance to the public here."

Mr Brokenshire said he would make a full statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday setting out the next steps.

Earlier a war of words erupted between the DUP and Sinn Fein over who is to blame for the deadlock.

DUP leader Arlene Foster questioned if Sinn Fein was ever serious about getting a deal in the first place and said the talks failed "because there wasn't a spirit of compromise to get back into Executive".

"We are just disappointed that Sinn Fein did not come to the talks in the same spirit as we came to the talks."

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill claimed the DUP had failed to live up to previous agreements and were standing in the way of progressive policies.

"We are standing firm - previous agreements need to be implemented," she said.

"We came at the negotiations with the right attitude, wanting to make the institutions work, wanting to deliver for all citizens.

"Unfortunately, the DUP maintained their position in relation to blocking equality, delivery of equality for citizens - that was the problem."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for an independent chair for the talks process.

“Unionism cannot dominate nationalism. Nationalism cannot dominate unionism. We must cooperate,” he said.

Outgoing UUP leader Mike Nesbitt questioned why the Secretary of State had not called roundtable talks with all the parties.

Alliance leader Naomi Long said the failure to restore devolution had “significant consequences for those who rely on and deliver our frontline public services”.

“We should be under no illusion that this failure will have an impact in the community,” she said.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph