Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire to update Parliament after DUP and Sinn Fein fail to reach agreement

Talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein have broken up for the evening after failing again to reach agreement.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire is expected to update Parliament on Wednesday about the ongoing crisis.

The parties are planning to resume negotiations in the morning in a bid to break the political deadlock.

Earlier on Tuesday Sinn Fein said they were not prepared to accept a deal to save Stormont at "any price".

Sinn Fein negotiation Conor Murphy MLA insisted the party stands firm over the issue of rights for all citizens including language, legacy and gay marriage.

Referring to the SDLP he challenged Sinn Fein critics to say if they want a deal "at any price".

Mr Murphy added this is a "very key time" in the talks process with the DUP, saying: "The people who are criticising us for standing firm in these negotiations need to explain what they mean by get a deal at any price.

"For our part in Sinn Fein we are here engaged, not on party political interests but actually on issues that are rights for people who support us and for many, many people who don't support us.

"We are here to protect people's rights and ensure that any legislation which is put back in place is done so on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Murphy also said that if Mr Brokenshire decides to legislate for a budget for the region at Westminster, "this phase of the talks process is over".

He also admitted there is a "credibility issue" the longer the talks drag on.

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire arrived back at Stormont on Tuesday in a bid to help break the political deadlock.

They said progress was made on Monday between the DUP and Sinn Fein during talks aimed at restoring powersharing.

Both men and the parties arrived back at Stormont on Tuesday morning to resume discussions after a late night of negotiations.

Mr Coveney tweeted that "everyone (is) working hard to get a deal across the line".

Mr Brokenshire has extended the deadline for the parties to reach agreement and will review the situation on Tuesday night.

They were warned by the Secretary of State they had until Monday to produce a written agreement or he would be forced to legislate for a budget for the region at Westminster.

However he decided on Monday night that the parties had made progress and he was going to defer his decision.

In a statement he said: "The parties have made further progress during the course of (Monday). They are making certain additional requests of the UK Government which we need to consider.

"In the light of this, I believe it is right to defer the assessment on whether to introduce legislation to Parliament this week to enable an Executive to be formed.

"The parties will recommence talks in the morning (Tuesday) and I will reassess the position (on Tuesday) night."

The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed in January and the region has been without a powersharing government since then.

Despite endless rounds of discussions, a deal to restore devolution has proved elusive, with the introduction of an Irish language act seen as the main issue.

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