Brokenshire gives Easter deadline for formation of new government

Cheryl Sanders
March 30, 2017

The absence of a devolved government leaves Northern Ireland in limbo as the Prime Minister prepares to trigger Article 50. "We are standing firm - previous agreements need to be implemented", she said.

The party said it would not share power with DUP leader Arlene Foster as first minister until the conclusion of a public inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. Problems have been brewing since January when former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness - who died last week after a short illness - stepped down, triggering an election.

The talks collapsed on Sunday ahead of Monday's 16:00 BST deadline.

"Particularly over the issue of the legacy of the Troubles it is as much about the British Government's response as it is about the relations between the parties here".

The deadline for the formation of a new Northern Ireland Executive passed earlier today with no agreement between the parties.

The DUP leader says another election won't solve the problems of Northern Ireland.

He declined to be drawn on calls for an independent mediator to be appointed to inject fresh impetus to negotiations that some politicians have described as a "shambles" to date. "We will continue to represent all within the community based on respect and equality", said O'Neill.

The move would see senior civil servants in Westminster take charge of the North's chequebook for the first time since 2007. He questioned why there had been no round table meeting of all the parties during the negotiations.

In his eulogy, former United States president Bill Clinton urged both sides to "finish the work of peace" in Northern Ireland, while Foster and O'Neill were pictured shaking hands.

Northern Ireland's political parties have been given an extended deadline to reach an agreement on a new power sharing deal, as the United Kingdom government battles to avoid either calling a new election or reimposing direct rule from Westminster.

That proposal drew an immediate response from Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill who insisted the only option under the current law was to order another snap election.

The UK Government "will have to consider all options" including direct rule if talks to form a new power-sharing Executive fail.

While the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the European Union, a majority in Northern Ireland wanted the UK to stay in the bloc.

Mr Brokenshire said he would make a full statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday (tomorrow, March 28) setting out the next steps.

On Monday, Mr Brokenshire said that a "short window of opportunity" still remained to resolve the outstanding issues between the DUP and Sinn Fein, due to the Easter recess, which lasts until 18 April.

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