Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar signals Northern Ireland talks to resume in Autumn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland will resume in October.

Northern Ireland has been without government since Sinn Fein brought down the institutions in January last year.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said there would be another attempt at getting agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein. He admitted uncertainty around Brexit was playing a role.

"We would intend in the autumn some time trying again to get the parties in Northern Ireland together," Mr Varadkar said.

"I think the absence of any clarity around Brexit makes that very difficult but if we can have that in October, I think there is an opportunity certainly before the end of the year to get the assembly and executive up and running."

Talks over the past 18 months have failed to broker agreement between the two main parties.

In February Sinn Fein published parts of what it claimed was a draft agreement which would have restored government. However, DUP leader Arlene Foster said there was never any agreement she could put to her party.

In the intervening months Secretary of State Karen Bradley has resisted bringing in full direct rule although she has had to introduce legislation from Westminster to ensure government operations can continue. She has introduced two budgets and will move a public appointments bill in the autumn to allow the Policing Board to be reconstituted.

Arlene Foster has called for more London intervention in Northern Ireland to end the "decision-making limbo".

"This is not about wishing to see a return to Direct Rule but about the people of Northern Ireland needing decisions taken so they are not punished for the refusal to restore devolution," she said.

A UK Government statement said: "The Secretary of State and UK Government's top priority remains the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

"She will continue to work with all the Northern Ireland parties - and with the Irish Government within the three stranded approach - to remove the barriers to restoring the Executive and a fully functioning Assembly."

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