James Brokenshire to reveal plans to resolve Stormont impasse

The UK government will later outline details of how it intends to foster an agreement to save powersharing at Stormont.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire will make a statement to the House of Commons after the region's main parties failed to form a new coalition executive before Monday's statutory deadline.

Mr Brokenshire has already warned local political leaders they will only be afforded a "short few weeks" to resolve their differences.

The Democratic Unionist/Sinn Fein administration collapsed in January amid a bitter row over a botched green energy scheme.

James Brokenshire

The subsequent snap election campaign laid bare a range of other contentious issues dividing the parties.

Under current legislation, the Government is required to call another snap election if a deadline for forming an executive passes.

However, there is some room for manoeuvre, as there is no obligation to set a poll date immediately, rather within a "reasonable period".

The Government could theoretically go for the nuclear option of reintroducing direct rule, but that move, which would require emergency legislation at Westminster, looks unlikely at this stage at least.

After Monday's 4pm deadline passed without the required nomination of a first and deputy first minister, Mr Brokenshire indicated he would create some more breathing space.

How the Government will approach fresh negotiations during this period will become clearer when the Secretary of State addresses the Commons.

Without a ruling executive or agreed budget for the upcoming financial year, control of Stormont's finances will be handed to a senior civil servant on Wednesday, albeit subject to tight spending constraints.

On Monday, Mr Brokenshire said that situation was "not sustainable", making clear the final window for negotiations would not be allowed to drift.

"I think there are a short few weeks in order to resolve matters," he said.

"The reason I say that is because of the stark issue in relation to public services here in Northern Ireland and the lack of a budget having been set, and therefore it is the impact on public services on having an extended period that is very much at the forefront of my mind in terms of the responsibilities that we have as the UK Government to provide that assurance to the public here."


 

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