NI civil service takes on powers as political impasse continues

Cheryl Sanders
April 8, 2017

Making the announcement, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, said there was "no appetite" for another snap election. "It is essential therefore that the intensity of discussions is stepped up, with renewed intent and focus and I believe that a positive outcome remains possible", he continued.

Sinn Fein has said it will not share power with Mrs Foster as first minister until a public inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme is concluded.

Under the rules of power-sharing, if the deadlock is not broken and no new elections are called the British Government would be expected to take Northern Ireland back under direct rule.

"The threat to our institutions and to the political progress we have made over the last 18 years is very real and where previous governments rolled up their sleeves, Theresa May's Tories haven't batted an eyelid".

Sinn Fein, representing Catholic Irish nationalists, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of the pro-British Protestants, have until Monday afternoon to reach an agreement or control could return to London.

"Mr Brokenshire warned that Northern Ireland was "rapidly approaching the point at which "(they) will not have an agreed Budget", a state which was "not sustainable" and "will have consequences for public services".

In turn Sinn Fein's Northern Irish leader Michelle O'Neill said the DUP had "maintained their position in relation to blocking equality for citizens".

Labour's Tom Blenkinsop, who sits on the Northern Ireland select committee, pressed the Government over funding for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the wake of the terror attack in Westminster last week and recent attempts to attack police officers in the North.

But after speaking to party leaders, Brokenshire sees a "short window of opportunity" of several weeks for more talks.

Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists have blamed each other for the breakdown of the talks on Sunday night.

"To that end I will continue over coming days to work closely with the Northern Ireland parties and the Irish government as appropriate".

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire makes a statement outside his office at Stormont House, Monday March 27, 2017, after the breakdown of power-sharing talks for Northern Ireland.

Ahead of her talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, May said she wanted "a more united nation" and would fight for the interests of all parts of Britain once exit negotiations with Brussels begin.

Sinn Fein pulled out of negotiations on Sunday after announcing it would not nominate a new deputy first minister.

Central to Brexit discussions will be the fate of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which remains an European Union member.

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