James Brokenshire to update Commons after expiry of powersharing deadline

The Northern Ireland Secretary is to announce the Government's next step after a deadline for restored powersharing came and went.

James Brokenshire will update the House of Commons this afternoon after the main political parties in Belfast failed to find common cause.

His options include setting another deadline for a talks process which has continued for months, calling this year's second snap assembly election or re-imposing some form of direct rule from Westminster.

The Democratic Unionists have urged Sinn Féin to change their approach to the negotiations between the two largest parties on establishing devolved government in Northern Ireland and accused republicans of making excessive demands.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has claimed his unionist counterparts lacked urgency and said they should agree on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights, marriage equality and measures dealing with the legacy of decades of past violence.

A series of deadlines have been missed to restore multi-party devolved government in Northern Ireland.

The most recent passed on Thursday without a resolution despite Stormont talks stretching long into the night involving the five main parties and the British and Irish governments.

The devolved institutions imploded in January when DUP leader Arlene Foster was forced from office after Sinn Féin's then deputy first minister, the late Martin McGuinness, quit.

That was in protest at the DUP's handling of the renewable heat incentive (RHI), a scheme that left the administration facing a £490 million overspend.

One of the main current sticking points is over Sinn Féin's call for an act officially protecting the Irish language.

A deal including reciprocal recognition of the unionist tongue Ulster-Scots has not materialised.

Republicans argue bestowing the status on Irish would represent a major step towards respect and equality for all in Northern Ireland.

The DUP has said it already supported Irish medium school education during years of devolved government and has accused Sinn Féin of politicising its use.


 

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