Belfast Telegraph

Same issues preventing Stormont return says Coveney

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said that it is the same issues that are "preventing agreement" in talks aimed at restoring power-sharing at Stormont.

Mr Coveney, who also serves as Tanaiste, made the comments during an interview on Newstalk.

Talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP collapsed in February 2018 after a disagreement over an Irish Language Act.

The parties also remain at loggerheads on same-sex marriage.

Mr Coveney said that the next two weeks of negotiations would focus on "three or four key areas where we don't have agreed compromise right now".

"They're some of the issues that prevented agreement 18 months ago and are still preventing agreement," the Tanaiste said.

"Having said that, I think the mood music is better now than we've had at any time in the last two years."

The Irish Foreign Minister said that reaching agreement on the outstanding issues would be challenging.

"That's going to be difficult, it's going to be fractious I suspect," Mr Coveney said.

"But I think we can do it and I think people need to remember what this is all about, which is trying to give political leadership in Northern Ireland which is very exposed and very vulnerable in the context of Brexit debates."

Talks are under way to try and restore powersharing at Stormont (Niall Carson/PA)
Talks are under way to try and restore powersharing at Stormont (Niall Carson/PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster has remained adamant her party will not sign up to a standalone Irish Language Act, while Sinn Fein has said they will not return to Stormont without significant changes.

The Assembly collapsed when the late deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned over the RHI Scandal in January 2017.

The latest round of talks started after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans in Londonderry in May.

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