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May to meet DUP and Sinn Féin at Westminster

22 February 2018

Talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed last week, and the two sides blamed each other for an impasse over a proposed Irish language act.

Many fear a return to full British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists who, until the triggering of snap elections previous year, had run the province together since 2007.

"There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has taken huge strides forward in the past 20 years, yet any commemorations this year will look decidedly hollow if Northern Ireland still has no functioning Government of its own", she said.

The UK Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs in the Houses of Parliament that the government would take "whatever steps are necessary", including setting the budget for the province. I intend to take steps to provide clarity on the budget.

"However, things in Northern Ireland can not stay in a state of limbo".

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Dublin has said it wants to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the British Government has echoed that stance and said it believes in devolution.

Bradley said London would not shirk its responsibilities to provide political stability in the region longer term but would only do so once all other viable options had been exhausted, including her statutory obligation to consider calling fresh elections.

"They must release the legacy inquest funding immediately and issue the consultation on the legacy mechanisms".

Move comes after talks over restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland broke down.

The prime minister is to meet the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin a week after talks aimed at restoring power sharing collapsed.

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Asked about suggestions by Tory backbencher Owen Paterson that the Good Friday Agreement may have outlived its usefulness, the spokesman said: "The Government remains absolutely steadfastly committed to the Belfast Agreement and is now working with partners in order to get the devolved administration up and running as soon as possible".

She again urged the British Government to put a budget for public services in place for Stormont's minister-less departments following a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Westminster.

The parties still disagree on whether or not a draft agreement was on the table before the talks broke down.

"The document spells out that draft legislation is in an annex".

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May to meet DUP and Sinn Féin at Westminster