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Stormont crisis: Theresa May urged by Lord Hain to take direct role in breaking political deadlock

Theresa May has been urged by former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Hain to take a direct role in breaking the political deadlock at Stormont.

The Labour peer said nothing was more important than ensuring the peace process in Northern Ireland kept moving forward.

He said any break in the peace could be "very dangerous indeed".

Minister Lord Dunlop said the Prime Minister was actively involved in discussions to restore power to the Northern Ireland executive.

But Tory and DUP peers echoed the calls from Lord Hain for Mrs May to intervene, with no sign of talks to restore power sharing reaching a breakthrough.

The comments came as peers heard a statement from Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, which he had delivered in the Commons earlier on Tuesday.

Lord Hain, who served as Northern Ireland secretary from 2005 to 2007, said he was "puzzled" why there had been no direct Prime Ministerial involvement in the impasse so far.

He said: "At times in the past, a Prime Minister's direct involvement, calling a summit in Hillsborough Castle or wherever it may be, together with the Taoiseach, has been crucial in breaking the gridlock, in bringing parties together and enabling them to find a solution that they were not able to do on their own.

"The Prime Minister may be busy on other things, like Brexit, but there's nothing more important, I would suggest, on her agenda than keeping the peace process in Northern Ireland moving forward.

"If it stalls and if it goes in any sense into reverse, that could be very dangerous indeed."

Lord Hain said a return to direct rule would be "a massive and possibly irreversible setback", while a second election would also "solve absolutely nothing".

Northern Ireland minister Lord Dunlop said: "She (Mrs May), as I have already said, is actively involved and engaged, dealing directly with the Taoiseach, and she and the Taoiseach have mandated the Northern Ireland Secretary and the Irish foreign minister to take forward the support and facilitation of the discussions with the parties.

"That will happen over the coming hours and days, as we seek to get a resolution to these issues."

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