Belfast Telegraph

Talks to start on May 7 in bid to 'quickly' re-establish Stormont institutions

Fresh talks on restoring power-sharing at Stormont will start after the local Government elections

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley during a press conference at Stormont in Belfast, as they make an announcement about a fresh bid to restore Stormont powersharing. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley during a press conference at Stormont in Belfast, as they make an announcement about a fresh bid to restore Stormont powersharing. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Talks are set to get underway to reestablish the Northern Ireland Executive, Assembly and the North-South Ministerial Council.

The announcement came in the form of a joint statement from Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday afternoon.

LIVE: Joint British and Irish Governmental statement on Stormont talks with Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Friday, April 26, 2019

In a joint press conference in Belfast with Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley later confirmed that talks on the restoration of power-sharing institutions will resume on Tuesday, May 7.

Ms Bradley said the "sickening" murder of journalist Lyra McKee had "deeply shocked everyone across the world".

"Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist, a role model for many, who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place," said Ms Bradley.

"Since Lyra's death, communities across Northern Ireland and the political spectrum have come together, united in condemnation at this murderous act.

"They have delivered a clear message - the people responsible for this act of terrorism have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and have no place in society."

The talks will involve all the main political parties in Northern Ireland alongside the UK and Irish Governments.

They will aim to "quickly re-establish to full operation the democratic institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement".

There will also be a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference during the same period.

It will focus on East/West relations, security cooperation and political stability in Northern Ireland.

The progress in the talks will then be reviewed at the end of May.

Earlier a joint statement from Mrs May and Mr Varadkar acknowledged the coming together of political leaders for the funeral of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee in Belfast on Wednesday.

Ms McKee was shot dead during rioting in the Creggan area of Londonderry last Thursday night. Dissident republican group the New IRA have accepted responsibility for her murder.

Their statement said that the gathering for Ms McKee's funeral showed the "clear will and determination of all of the people of these islands to reject violence and to support peace and a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland."

"We also heard the unmistakable message to all political leaders that people across Northern Ireland want to see a new momentum for political progress. We agree that what is now needed is actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership," it read.

Prime Minister Theresa May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Secretary of State Karen Bradley (left) outside the cathedral following the funeral service (Brian Lawless/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Secretary of State Karen Bradley (left) outside the cathedral following the funeral service (Brian Lawless/PA)

"We understand the complexity of the underlying concerns of all parties, and the need for renewed trust, mutual respect, generosity and new thinking to resolve the issues.

"As Prime Minister and Taoiseach, we are determined to work together to ensure this process comes to a successful conclusion."

The power-sharing institutions have been suspended for more than two years.

DUP leader Arlene Foster wants a twin-track approach where the devolved institutions are restored quickly to deal with issues like running the health service, while a separate process addresses disagreements like that over same-sex marriage.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has rejected that and said issues like marriage equality and protection for the Irish language need to be delivered to pave the way for restoration of the devolved institutions.

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