Prime Minister Theresa May to hold talks with Northern Ireland's parties to allay concerns over DUP deal
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to hold talks with Northern Ireland's main political parties in a bid to allay concerns about the government deal with the DUP.
Theresa May will meet with Sinn Fein, the UUP, the SDLP and Alliance Party in separate meetings at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon.
It comes as DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds have been having ongoing discussions with Theresa May to strike a deal for them to work a minority government with the Conservatives.
Arlene Foster flew out to London on Monday to hold talks in Downing Street.
The DUP found itself as kingmakers following the shock general election result which saw Theresa May's party lose its overall majority in the House of Commons.
However the announcement of any deal between the DUP and the Conservatives has been postponed due to the London tower block fire.
Concerns have been raised that the Government will compromise its impartiality in the region if it enters a confidence and supply deal with the DUP at Westminster.
Sir John Major is one of those urging caution.
While the DUP continue to hammer out the details of the arrangement with the Tories, the other four main parties at Stormont confirmed they would be meeting Mrs May on Thursday.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement commits the UK and Irish Governments to demonstrate "rigorous impartiality" in their dealings with the different political traditions in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein will also be travelling to Dublin to meet new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
In a statement on Thursday Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill she wants to "make it clear" that any proposed government deal "cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday agreement".
She said: "I will be in London and Dublin over the coming days for talks with both Theresa May and the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
"I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements.
"It's imperative that both governments recommit to the word, spirit and implementation of the Good Friday Agreement if there is to be any prospect of re-establishing the Executive.“The power-sharing institutions collapsed because of the DUP’s RHI financial scandal and the refusal of previous Tory governments and the DUP to implement previous agreements.
“Progress will not come from a deal between the DUP and Tories to prop up a government in Westminster with an austerity and Brexit agenda but through the full implementation of the agreements and an Executive that respects the rights and delivers for all in society.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the party is meeting Mrs May to aid the process of restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Mr Eastwood said in a statement: "The context in which the talks process is now being asked to operate in could have very serious consequences if there is any suggestion of a back room deal with the DUP. We will be asking the Prime Minister to be open with politicians and also with the public.
“The SDLP are clear that any deal struck must not hinder cross-community confidence in our politics.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to devolution and are ready to work with all willing partners to restore the devolved institutions in the interests of all our people.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital