Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Northern Ireland power-sharing deal could be confirmed this week

There is speculation that a powersharing deal is imminent There is speculation that a powersharing deal is imminent
Ellis Copeland | 14 February, 2018, 20:29

"While some differences remain, I believe that it is possible to see the basis of an agreement here", May said after Monday's talks.

The British province has been without a devolved executive for over a year since Irish nationalists Sinn Fein withdrew from a power-sharing government with their arch-rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Politicians in Northern Ireland are close to finalising a deal that would restore power sharing to the province after more than a year of deadlock.

There is no prospect of Northern Ireland's main parties agreeing to restore devolved government, the leader of the largest unionist party said on Wednesday, calling on Britain to take further financial control of the region.

Mary Lou McDonald says they have the "political will" to reach an agreement to restore the devolved government at Stormont.

However, speculation has been growing that a deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP is close.

Update 2.31pm: It is unlikely a power-sharing deal for Northern Ireland will be decided today.

Colum Eastwood's concern for Theresa May's sensitivities is touching but surely getting the right deal is more important than getting an agreement simply to avoid embarrassing the British prime minister.

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Following talks with Theresa May in Belfast, Mr Varadkar said both governments agreed that was the best approach and officials would "explore solutions" to the issue over the coming weeks and months.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled to Stormont today to engage in a last-minute meeting with the British Prime Minister.

Sinn Fein wants a standalone piece of legislation to protect speakers - an Irish Language Act - but the DUP has long insisted it would only consider new laws if they also incorporate other cultures, such as Ulster Scots.

He said talks were at a critical stage and the party was focused on achieving a deal.

The declaration of an agreement was "not likely" to occur however, as confirmed by a source from DUP.

But while such hopes proved unfounded, all parties said an accord was in sight.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since January 2017, with two elections and several rounds of talks failing to resolve the crisis.

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