‘No prospect’ of NI deal as talks break down

Talks between the leaders of Northern Ireland’s two biggest political parties to re-establish a government in Stormont have broken down.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said there was “no prospect” of negotiations leading to a new power-sharing agreement.

She announced in a statement on Wednesday: “In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an executive being formed.

“It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s Government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

STORMONT GETTY

Image: Stormong has been without an executive since January 2017

“Important decisions impacting on everyone in Northern Ireland have been sitting in limbo for too long.

“I had dearly hoped that we could have restored an executive and local ministers could have taken those decisions. That is not possible at this time.”

Ms Foster added the DUP would not be “held to ransom” and that “serious and significant gaps” remain between both sides on the issue of an Irish Language Act.

Sinn Fein are due to respond shortly.

Theresa May speaks outside Stormont House, in Belfast

Image: Theresa May visited Belfast on Monday to urge for a ‘final push’

The announcement will come as a major blow to the UK Government, after Theresa May visited Belfast on Monday to urge for a “final push” in talks.

Her Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire was replaced last month due to ill health by Karen Bradley.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also failed to mention Northern Ireland or the border issue once in a speech responding to people’s concerns about Brexit hours before the latest round of talks faltered.

It is 13 months since Northern Ireland’s devolved government collapsed.

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Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness resigned in January 2017 in protest at Ms Foster’s refusal to stand down as First Minister over a botched renewable energy scheme.

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