Britain says still hope for N. Ireland agreement after talks end


Since the March 2017 legislative assembly elections, Irish nationalists of the Sinn Fein party and pro-British unionists under the DUP have been unable to find common ground on divisive issues such as the introduction of an Irish language act and legacy issues inherited from decades of violence popularly known as "the Troubles".

She said: "We can not and will not be held to ransom by those who have refused to form an Executive for over 13 months".

"The announcement from the DUP is clearly very disappointing".

Sinn Fein have rejected suggestions that DUP negotiators were surprised at the inclusion of an Irish Language Act in the deal.

The DUP collapsed the talks after the two parties had seemed to have reached an accommodation all issues.

"Whether it is this week, whether it is in a couple of weeks or whether it's in a couple of months what I must ensure is that we have an accommodation that everybody feels content with".

'We should be able to see an executive up and running very soon'.

"Sinn Fein's insistence on a stand alone Irish Language Act means that we have reached an impasse", Foster said.

"Some of the speculation has actually caused a lot of concern right across the community in Northern Ireland and it's important that we say that that is not based in reality". I respect the Irish language and those who speak it but in a shared society this can not be a one-way street.

Theresa May speaks outside Stormont House in Belfast
Image Theresa May was in Belfast on Monday

Mrs Foster also made clear that if devolution is restored she expects to be first minister of the new administration.

The DUP, which props up the Conservative government in Westminster, refused to agree to Sinn Fein demands to introduce legal protections for the Irish language, and said there was "no prospect" of a deal.

"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 Prime Minister and Taoiseach travelled to Stormont on Monday to encourage the region's parties to finally end the deadlock that has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government since last January. The DUP leader said the governments had been told in advance of their trip that "the deal wasn't done".

He said he was "disappointed" and "angry" at the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to strike a deal to restore power-sharing.

At 4.00 pm on Wednesday, St Valentine's Day, DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted there is "no current prospect" of a deal to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

The issue has proven to be the main sticking point in over a year of negotiations but in the past week it had been thought that progress has been made.

He said: "We need to know, and what Northern Ireland needs to know, is the door to devolution now firmly closed or is there still a possibility of it being open?"

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