Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Sinn Fein leader says there will be more Northern Ireland talks

Sinn Fein leader says there will be more Northern Ireland talks

But she said Sinn Fein's demand for an Irish Language Act to enshrine the status of Irish was not "fair and balanced" and did not respect "the unionist and British identity" of Northern Ireland's Protestants.

The talks collapsed after almost four weeks of negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Féin on setting up an Northern Ireland executive, which has been without a government for 13 months.

Speaking at a press conference, she said that DUP leader Arlene Foster brought the talks to a close.

The devolved government in Belfast has been suspended since January 2017, when the Irish republican Sinn Fein party pulled out of the power-sharing arrangement with the pro-British DUP, citing a breakdown in trust.

He told BBC Radio Ulster: "How irresponsible would it be for any political party to allow talks to continue with those unresolved issues, that we all knew were there, that we all knew had to be closed, how irresponsible would it have been to continue that into next week in the knowledge that a budget that to be passed".

Ms McDonald said her party warned the DUP to close the deal "before those opposed to it could unpick" it.

The political crisis threatens power-sharing, the key achievement of the 1998 peace accord that ended decades of violence and bloodshed in Northern Ireland.

Direct rule would also mean, however, that the United Kingdom would administer Northern Ireland's abortion laws and the definition of marriage would transfer to Britain, putting Westminster in the "politically toxic" position of deciding whether to overturn the region's abortion ban and legalise same-sex marriage, The Spectator writes.

Ms Villiers claimed "there is a way to deliver" a solution that suits both sides, adding: "I don't think the parties are a million miles away from delivering that legislation that Sinn Fein really wants".

Several UK-government-set deadlines to restore the Northern Ireland administration had passed without success, raising the spectre that the British government might impose direct rule from London on Northern Ireland.

She also said that the justice ministry would have become part of the usual d'hondt selection for the parties by 2022.

Mrs McDonald said they would not disclose all the details of the deal to honour any future confidentiality should the talks restart, but they would provide both the British and Irish governments with the full text. "They have now collapsed this process", she said.

May said she'd urged the politicians "to make one final push for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland".

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