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Party conferences could delay fresh drive for Assembly restoration

By Noel McAdam

Talks with the DUP and Sinn Fein are being organised as negotiations to restore Stormont ramp up again.

The separate sessions with Secretary of State James Brokenshire are expected this week in a bid to gauge the gap between the two main parties.

But more intensive formal meetings between the parties are not expected until next week at the earliest.

And there are concerns the sequence of national party annual conferences could undermine attempts to inject momentum into the talks.

DUP leader Arlene Foster is expected to attend the Tory gathering and Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill and senior negotiator Conor Murphy may go to the Labour event.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire is also due to speak at the Conservative conference, all of which will mean major figures will be missing over several days.

But there is increasing speculation that Mr Brokenshire will not allow the resumed negotiations to extend beyond October, after which he will have to begin moves towards Direct Rule.

Belfast Telegraph

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