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Northern Ireland political breakdown: Press conference in the sun, but the storm clouds were gathering

By Allan Preston

"Happy Mother's Day." These were not the words the Press was expecting Gerry Adams to open with as they waited anxiously for news of a political breakthrough.

The weather may have been stunning in the grounds of Stormont Castle yesterday, but there were already dark clouds looming with no indication of agreement or even an appearance from the DUP.

After the Sinn Fein leader's light-hearted intro, it fell to Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill to deliver the bad news.

"The talks process has run its course and Sinn Fein will not be nominating for the position of Speaker or for the Executive Office tomorrow," she said.

On Thursday DUP leader Arlene Foster entered St Columba's Church in Londonderry for Martin McGuinness's funeral to applause, and was photographed reaching across the crowd to shake hands with Mrs O'Neill.

But yesterday it was obvious any lowering of tensions was short-lived.

"The Government and the DUP have failed in their approach to the talks process and the negotiations, they haven't stepped up to the plate," claimed Mrs O'Neill.

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph if she was now counting on the Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire to delay the dreaded prospect of yet another election, she replied: "I'm not counting on James Brokenshire in relation to anything.

"We came at this with a good heart wanting to find our way through all the issues."

While making it clear today's 4pm deadline would come and go, Mrs O'Neill maintained her party would continue to negotiate.

"There are a number of things that can happen tomorrow, but tomorrow's tomorrow.

"We'll deal with that, but today we have come to the end of the road in terms of these negotiations."

Mr Adams finished proceedings by observing that "unionism is at a crossroads and they need to reflect".

"The DUP can't be in there representing just the DUP voters; they have to work with us and any other party in there representing everyone, and that's what this is about," he said.

"We're not going back to the status quo.

"But we'll be back. Will we get the institutions in place? Yes."

Belfast Telegraph

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