NI devolution talks continued into night

Image copyright Reuters

The British and Irish governments worked intensively into the night discussing efforts to restore devolution.

Discussions between the parties, Secretary of State Julian Smith and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have been ongoing throughout Wednesday.

It is understood the parties were to be briefed on the text of a draft deal on Wednesday.


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Thursday marks three years since the executive collapsed.

BBC News NI political reporter Jayne McCormack said the smaller parties had expected to be briefed on a text by the two governments, but that had not happened.

If devolution is not restored by Monday, a fresh assembly election could be called.

Northern Ireland has been without devolved government since January 13, 2017, when the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row.

Image copyright Charles McQuillan
Image caption If agreement has not been reached by next Monday, a fresh assembly election could be called

Proposed legislation for an Irish language act and reforming the petition of concern, the assembly’s controversial veto system, are among the key sticking points in the ongoing talks.

The DUP has been accused of holding up a deal.

Talks deadline

Since Stormont collapsed, civil servants have been running day-to-day operations – but have needed Westminster to pass some legislation for some areas they do not have powers over.

In July, the government extended a law that gives civil servants flexibility to take certain decisions, but that runs out on 13 January 2020.


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Image caption Talks were expected to continue into Wednesday night

The government then has two options if devolution is still not restored. Either bring forward another new bill to push back the date, or call a fresh assembly election.

In the past, it has opted to pursue legislation but the current Secretary of State Julian Smith has insisted he will call another poll if the parties do not reach a breakthrough by 13 January.

Original Article : HERE ;

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