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SF and DUP to meet Theresa May over deadlock at Stormont


Decisions: DUP leader Arlene Foster

Decisions: DUP leader Arlene Foster

Decisions: DUP leader Arlene Foster

The DUP and Sinn Fein will hold separate meetings with the Prime Minister today to discuss the political stalemate at Stormont.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds will meet Theresa May in the morning.

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill and a party delegation will hold talks with her in the afternoon.

Sinn Fein ended negotiations with the DUP to restore power-sharing when Secretary of State James Brokenshire introduced a budget for Northern Ireland in the House of Commons last week.

However, it has insisted it still wants to reach a deal with Mrs Foster's party to re-establish the Assembly and Executive.

An Irish Language Act remains the biggest stumbling block to an agreement.

Speaking last night, Mrs Foster said: "We want to speak with the Prime Minister about the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland and also about securing the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom as we exit the EU."

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But the DUP leader warned that direct rule was inevitable if a Stormont deal wasn't imminent.

"I want to see local ministers making decisions about Northern Ireland but we cannot continue without a ministerial-led government," she said.

"The Secretary of State was right to legislate for our budget in London.

"Further steps now look inevitable unless there is a change of direction."

Mrs Foster said her party had "no red lines" and would have formed an Executive many months ago.

"The people I represent are frustrated that Sinn Fein is blocking devolution," she said.

"Bread and butter decisions are being disrupted.

"Health, education and infrastructure spending is being hampered because Sinn Fein is focused on a narrow political agenda."

The DUP's confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories is keeping Mrs May in power.

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