Crunch time in N. Ireland power-sharing talks

If the feuding main parties cannot agree to form a semi-autonomous government in Belfast by 4:00pm (1500 GMT) Thursday, then the province will be fully governed from London.

Crunch time in N. Ireland power-sharing talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

Northern Ireland's squabbling politicians were in crunch talks Tuesday to form a government, a day after Prime Minister Theresa May promised £1 billion for the province in a deal to keep her in power.

The power-sharing executive is the cornerstone of a peace process that ended three decades of violent conflict between Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestant British unionists.

A collapse of trust led to a March 2 snap election to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has powers over matters such as health, education, justice and the province's economy.

The conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) finished narrowly ahead of socialists Sinn Fein.

Both parties were involved in late-night talks Monday ahead of talks with the three other major parties on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, a former education minister, said he was unsure whether a deal could be struck.

"I am an optimist and a realist," he told BBC radio.

"When there is talking going on there is always hope."

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: "We want to see an executive up and running. We haven't set any red lines, no pre-conditions.

"Let's get on with the job. If Sinn Fein continue to mess about I think they will pay a heavy price."

Sinn Fein insist DUP leader Arlene Foster cannot return as first minister and want greater recognition of the Irish language, which the 2011 census found four percent in Northern Ireland could speak, read and write.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives struck a deal with the DUP on Monday that will afford her party a slim parliamentary majority.

The deal was slammed by opposition parties as political bribery, amid concerns about its impact on the province's delicate peace process.

Under the agreement, Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1.0 billion (1.1 billion euros, $1.3 billion) from the state over two years.

The DUP said it would back the government in any confidence votes and to pass budgets, as well as supporting it on Brexit-related legislation.

The money would be made available to Northern Ireland even if the province is returned to direct rule, although local parties would not be able to decide how it is allocated.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Haziran 2017, 13:41