Belfast Telegraph

Prime Minister Theresa May expresses 'disappointment' at Northern Ireland talks breakdown

Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her disappointment at the breakdown of the Northern Ireland talks.

The Conservative party leader spoke with both the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone on Thursday evening.

It comes after the leadership of the two parties clashed over claims a deal had been agreed.

"In both phone calls the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved," a Number 10 spokeswoman said.

"She reiterated how the Government remains absolutely committed to restoring an Executive and that it is still her firm belief that restoring devolved Government - so that democratically elected politicians can make locally accountable decisions - is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland."

On Monday the Prime Minister and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Belfast. On leaving Mrs May urged the parties to make one "final push" at getting a deal. On Wednesday DUP leader Arlene foster pulled the plug on the process saying there was "no prospect" of a deal.

The Downing Street spokeswoman continued: "The Prime Minister was clear that she still believes the basis for an agreement exists and recognised the leadership both parties had shown over past weeks and months. She urged them both to reflect on the recent phase of talks in order to find the best way forward.

"On next steps, the Prime Minister was clear that the UK Government has a responsibility to consider what needed to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of an Executive.

"She added that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties, and the Irish Government in accordance with the three stranded approach, to support that process."

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