Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy: Perhaps we are still in talks, I don't know

We are available to talk, says DUP

By Jonny Bell

With James Brokenshire giving the parties a "short window of opportunity" to hammer out a deal, one of Sinn Fein's talks negotiators Conor Murphy has admitted he does not know if talks are continuing.

Sinn Fein walked out of the talks on Sunday evening saying they had run their course. It meant first ministers were not nominated by the 4pm Monday deadline forcing the secretary of state to act.

Speaking on BBC's Stephen Nolan show, Mr Murphy was asked if his party had compromised over the past three weeks of talks.

"Perhaps we are still in the middle of negotiations so I am not going to get into the detail of the give and take," he said.

Pressed on if his party was in the middle of talks or not, he added: "Well I don't know. We will ascertain that in the next couple of days and are waiting on responses from the other parties to see if there is a mood for negotiations.

"If that proves to be the case we are ready and willing to get into dialogue. We spoke yesterday with all the party leaders and the British and Irish governments and I believe that there is a will. We will test that today or tomorrow and we will see if people want to get back to dialogue and if they do we will put together a team and go to Stormont to do just that."

Mr Murphy said he and his party had no desire to return to the ballot box, as the legislation says should happen following the breakdown of the talks, but "if that's what has to happen, that's what has to happen".

He added: "There is opportunity to continue to talk in the days and weeks ahead. The talks deadline was on Monday so that phase of the talks had run its course.

"If other parties are willing to try and crunch on these issues in the next period we are certainly up for doing that.

"We have no desire for an election, that's where the legislation takes us and if that's what has to happen, that's what has to happen but we would like to see these issues resolved and and an Executive in place."

Asked if there were talks ongoing, a DUP spokesman said: "Our position throughout the talks was that we wanted to see a successful outcome based on recognition of all mandates.

"The decision by Sinn Fein to block the creation of an Executive is regrettable and damaging to the public of Northern Ireland.

"We have made clear our desire to secure the restoration of devolution and we continue to be available to try to reach agreement."

Speaking at Stormont on Monday afternoon, James Brokenshire said: "There are a short few weeks in order to resolve matters."


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