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24/01/2018

Fresh Round Of Talks To Restore Power-Sharing In NI Begin

A fresh round of talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland have begun.

The Secretary of state will hold meetings with the five main parties.

The Irish deputy prime minister will also be at Stormont.

Northern Ireland has been without an Executive for over a year.

Previously, Mrs Bradley said: "Without an Executive, Northern Ireland's voice on critical issues will not be heard as strongly.  

"I will be updating Parliament in Westminster no later than 7 February on progress."

SDLP Chairperson Colin McGrath MLA said: "The DUP and Sinn Féin have now been given more than enough space to achieve a deal between themselves. After a year of being indulged, now is the time to put them under real pressure to come clean and secure the deal the North needs."

Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O'Neill said the party is ready to engage in the talks process and find a way through the current political impasse.
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She said: "Issues like marriage rights, language rights, the Bill of Rights and legacy inquests should not be politically contentious.

"They should be issues that we are able to resolve here as part of the current discussions.

"We believe that the biggest threats facing this Executive are Brexit and Tory austerity and that the institutions are the best mitigation against those twin threats.

"The public want these institutions to work but they will only work if the people have confidence in them."

Ulster Unionist Party Chief Whip, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, said: "If they do not reach a positive outcome, then it is incumbent on the UK Government to take responsibility and ensure that Northern Ireland has some form of functioning government, whether that is a voluntary coalition or move to direct rule. The restoration of devolution should be the number one target. 

"It is simply intolerable to let the current political drift continue. No party should be allowed to stymie progress through their ideological stubbornness. Sinn Fein cannot be allowed to continue to hold Northern Ireland and its people to ransom."

(CD/LM)

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