Published: Sat, October 21, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Stormont talks: Parties 'no longer close' to deal

Stormont talks: Parties 'no longer close' to deal

Former US President Bill Clinton - who helped broker the 1998 peace accord - visited both Northern Ireland, where he met privately with its leaders, and Ireland.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar conceded recent progress in easing the stalemate had stalled, and sounded the alarm this week at the potential impact of a continued impasse.

His meetings with DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill on Tuesday took place at a critical moment for inter-party talks.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Brokenshire said the prospects of a deal to restore devolution did not look positive.

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Sinn Féin have said they will not return to government unless the DUP agrees to the introduction of a standalone Irish language act.

Mr Brokenshire told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster: "A breakthrough has not been reached".

There have been calls in Northern Ireland for politicians' £49,500 annual salaries to be cut in the absence of a power-sharing government.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee yesterday, Mr Brokenshire said: 'If I had given evidence to this committee last week I might have indicated some momentum, more progress. The border is one of three key issues that have been identified, along with citizens' rights and money owed by the United Kingdom, that require "sufficient progress" toward a resolution before the European union will allow talks to move on to Britain's future trade relationship with the bloc.

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Promising "specific" solutions for Northern Ireland could effectively commit the United Kingdom and the European Union to the idea of a bespoke deal for the region, should the two sides fail to reach the type of a free-trade accord that would eliminate the need for a border.

The people of Northern Ireland had been dealt "a pretty raw deal", and it would be "unfair to point the finger at the British government", Dr Murrison told the BBC's Evening Extra programme.

'Unless there is a renewed spirit of compromise then the outlook for imminent resolution is not positive.

He added, "Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement".

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"Yet still we see parties putting their own narrow sectional interests ahead of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people".

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