Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein: Deal could be done in the next 24 hours - but party will not compromise on a compromise

By Claire Williamson and PA

Sinn Fein have said a deal can be done in the next 24 hours but stated they will not compromise on a compromise - as intensive talks resume at Stormont.

Following the collapse of the previous round of talks last week, the Northern Ireland Office invited the parties back for "intensive talks".

Speaking afterwards Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd said a deal can be done this week as they have been done in the past.

He said: "We have spent the day engaging with the two governments and other political parties.

"The issues and challenges have not changed.

"We need implementation of previous agreements. If we can succeed in the implementation of previous agreements then we can move forward."

"We have come together. There hasn't been sufficient movement we have not had acknowledgement from the DUP and others that there will be implementation of previous agreements.

"We haven't had enough movement."

When asked if a deal could be done this week, Mr O'Dowd said it could be done in the next 24 hours.

"A deal can be done this week, it can be done in the next 24 hours and an Executive formed by Wednesday and government reconstituted and we can move on.

DUP press conference live from Stormont

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Monday, April 3, 2017

"All these things are doable because we've agreed to them in the past through the compromises and all hard work that has been done let's move forward to implementation."

He added: "You can't compromise on a compromise, we've already compromised to ensure agreements in the past move forward.

"Let's move forward."

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "From our perspective they [Sinn Fein] have always said it is about implementing past agreements... there have been new elements introduced to these negotiations. "

Earlier Ms Foster said a meeting with party leaders was constructive.

"We instigated a round-table of the five main party leaders, that was a constructive engagement. There is a very short window here. We need to get down and deal with the issues that people are talking to us about."

Secretary of State James Brokenshire had faced criticism for his handling of the last phase of talks, which didn't stage one round-table session.

Mr O'Dowd said the talks were largely being chaired by the head of the Civil Service.

He said that when it comes to legacy issues they will deal with who will chair those talks at the time.

He added: "We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood struck a positive note about the new process, insisting the opening day was a "step in the right direction".

"The meeting of the five party leaders this afternoon was a constructive beginning to the new phase of the talks," he said.

"It's critical that all parties are at the table if we're to create the conditions for forming an inclusive powersharing Executive."

Ulster Unionist negotiator Tom Elliott said his party wanted to make the process work but warned he and his colleagues would not be "taken for granted".

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