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Talks in Northern Ireland collapse less than 24 hours before deadline

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill said that negotiations had “come to the end of the road”.

TALKS BETWEEN THE two major parties in the North have broken down less than 24 hours ahead of the deadline.

Renewable Heat Initiative allegations PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill confirmed that the talks had ended this evening, telling reporters that “we’ve come to the end of the road”:

“This talks process has run its course. Sinn Féin will not be supporting nominations for Speaker or the Executive tomorrow.

 Sinn Féin is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored but when we said there will be no return to the status quo we meant it.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said that they ran out of time to negotiate, and that they weren’t willing to form a new administration with “pre-conditions”.

“To date there was little to suggest that Sinn Fein want to secure agreement. At every opportunity they have resisted involving the other parties and consequently no round table discussions were possible during this round of discussions.”

Throughout the course of Saturday Sinn Fein behaved as if they were the only participants whose mandate mattered. This cannot and will not be the basis for a successful outcome.

“The DUP stands ready to continue to discuss how we can secure new arrangements for Northern Ireland.”

Ulster Assembly election 2017 Brian Lawless Brian Lawless

Sinn Féin and the DUP gathered the most amount of votes in this year’s election, and under legislation had until tomorrow to form an Executive.

With talks breaking down so close to the deadline, Northern Ireland could be thrown into another election process or return to direct rule from London.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said:

Despite constructive engagement by all of the parties and important progress being made during these discussions, it has not yet been possible to make the necessary breakthroughs on a small number of core issues.

“This is a critical time for Northern Ireland. We are on the cusp of the triggering of Article 50 by the UK Government.”

He urged both sides to return to negotiations.

Ulster Assembly election 2017 Michael McHugh / PA Images Michael McHugh / PA Images / PA Images

Earlier today, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams released a statement saying that talks weren’t progressing and said that “Unionism is at a crossroads”.

“The DUP needs to decide whether and when it will rise to the challenges of this time and work in genuine partnership with nationalists and republicans, and all sections of our society, on the basis of equality and respect. For everyone.

Regrettably, thus far in the talks process there has been no substantive progress across all of the key issues that are at the core of the current impasse.
The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues; an Irish Language Act; a Bill of Rights; and marriage equality.

“Sinn Féin is up for building a pluralist rights based society as set out in numerous agreements. Is the DUP?”

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