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Power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland collapse

Power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland collapse

SINN FEIN will meet with leaders of both the Irish and United Kingdom governments today to discuss the failed bid to restore power-sharing in the North.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been suspended since January 2017, when it broke down amid a scandal over a botched green-energy project.

The power-sharing talks are believed to have collapsed over a proposed Irish language act.

I'm sure the Prime Minister's visit will have been helpful but this is a very, very hard set of circumstances and this is a very sensitive issue.

Several UK-government-set deadlines to restore the Northern Ireland administration had passed without success, raising the spectre that the British government might impose direct rule from London on Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed on Wednesday there is no current prospect of discussions with Sinn Fein leading to the re-establishment of Northern Ireland's government.

Foster's colleague Simon Hamilton told reporters agreement was "impossible" at this time but that the DUP wanted to pick the talks up at a future date.




Mrs Foster blamed a dispute over Irish language legislation for Wednesday's breakdown in negotiations, with Sinn Fein wanting standalone laws to protect speakers.

Ms McDonald said her party warned the DUP to close the deal "before those opposed to it could unpick" it.

The DUP leadership is said to have been "spooked" by the level of opposition to such an act, not only inside the party but in the wider unionist community.

Many fear direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists who, until past year, had run the province since 2007 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that mostly ended decades of sectarian conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.

If we were to get into a situation where that was the deal breaker, then I'm afraid it would be the deal breaker because we are not going to have a free-standing Irish language act.

"There is the basis of an agreement, and it should be possible to see an executive up and running in Northern Ireland very soon", she said.

Ireland's foreign minister said that as co-guarantors of the 1998 peace deal, both governments have an obligation to uphold the letter and spirit of that agreement and that Dublin must "reflect in the coming days on how best to do that".


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