Belfast Telegraph

Stormont talks: British and Irish governments preparing inadequate deal, says Sinn Fein's Murphy

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The British and Irish governments are set to table a deal that is "less than what is required", Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy has said.

His comments come with one week to go until the deadline laid down by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire, who said last week a deal needed to be struck by October 30 to allow for a budget to be passed.

Mr Brokenshire said the latest date to commence setting a budget for Northern Ireland through a restored Executive would be November 6.

However, if no deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP was evident by October 30, he would begin the legislation process for bringing Northern Ireland's budget through Westminster on that date.

Speaking ahead of the deadline, Mr Murphy said: "Talks have resumed and, as we made clear last week, time is running out.

“I strongly suspect that the two governments are preparing a paper that will be less than what is required for sustainable institutions and we've told them that privately."

He added last week the two governments had made a "failed attempt" to "shape media agenda as part of the public conditioning for that".

Last week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar drew headlines for comments he made on BBC's Spotlight programme about a possible united Ireland.

He told the programme: "I wouldn’t like us to get to the point whereby we are changing the constitutional position here in Northern Ireland on a 50% plus one basis."

The Good Friday Agreements states that a majority should support constitutional change for the creation of a united Ireland.

Responding to the Taoiseach's comments, Mr Murphy said: "As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Taoiseach should be seeking to defend the agreement in all its parts, not seeking to undermine it."

He also told the programme there would be a willingness from the EU to "bend the rules" for Northern Ireland.

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