wnol.info March 22 2018

DUP leader: No prospect of Northern Ireland deal

March 22 2018, 05:55 | Irvin Gilbert

Northern Ireland latest: Arlene Foster says there is 'no prospect' of deal to restore Stormont government

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Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness resigned in January 2017 in protest at Ms Foster's refusal to stand down as First Minister over a botched renewable energy scheme.

She said there remained "serious and significant gaps" between the pro-British DUP and the republican Sinn Fein party over the issue of the use of the Irish language in Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a statement: "I very much regret the statement from the DUP".

DUP leader Arlene Foster has this afternoon stated that there is "no current prospect" of a deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Foster described the deal proposed by Sinn Fein as unfair and unbalanced.

There have been numerous efforts to form a new executive since an election last March, with the latest round of talks getting under way last month.

The British province has been without a devolved executive - a central part of a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence - for over a year since Irish nationalists Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory power-sharing government with their arch-rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Despite Foster's comments today, yesterday, Theresa May said there was a "basis for an agreement" in Stormont and that a Northern Ireland Executive could be "up and running very soon".

Foster has called on the United Kingdom government to take direct rule of Northern Ireland, which means the May-led government would be responsible for setting the devolved region's budget and making policy decisions on its behalf.

"As the Prime Minister said during her visit on Monday, we are ready to bring forward legislation to enable an executive to be formed".

The DUP source said: "If a private members bill was to be tabled [instead] then the DUP would work to protect the current definition of marriage and would try to utilise the petition of concern to do so".

"We chose Valentine's Day because it is the day of love, so equal love", she said.

The Stormont government collapsed past year in a row over a botched green energy scheme.

"It's easy to pull this place down".

But according to the DUP, Mrs May's presence this week was a "distraction" and suggested that she ignored advice to travel to Belfast as a deal was still some way off. "It's not that easy to put it back together again".

DUP leader Arlene Foster did not reply to their letter of invitation.

And it reveals just how weak Mrs May's position remains, as the DUP continues to call the shots when it comes to negotiations, having nearly torpedoed Mrs May's Brexit deal before Christmas over the proposed border arrangements.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann also called on Stormont's two biggest parties to publish details of what had been agreed to date.

"Certainly in our view it acted as a distraction, we were unable to build on the progress that we had been making at the end of last week, and I think we have, as I have said before, run out of road in respect of this process". While his party wanted devolution, he thought the British government should get on with preparing a budget for Northern Ireland.

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