'Deal is doable' in talks to restore powersharing at Stormont

'Deal is doable' in talks to restore powersharing at Stormont

Talks between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists aimed at saving powersharing at Stormont have "intensified and deepened", the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

James Brokenshire also welcomed what he characterised as "positive statements" from the rowing parties over the weekend and urged both to convert those words into action.

While both the DUP and Sinn Fein issued statements on Sunday stressing their commitment to restoring a devolved executive, there has been no public indication whether either side has given ground on the roadblocks currently preventing it.

Mr Brokenshire has already warned the region is on a "glide path" to a form of direct rule from Westminster if the long-running impasse that triggered the collapse of powersharing at the start of the year is not resolved by the middle of next month.

The Conservative MP gave his assessment on the state of the troubled negotiation process on Monday.

"I firmly believe a deal is doable with the right intent and focus," said Mr Brokenshire.

"We've obviously seen some more positive statements but it is now about converting that into a deal, converting that into the formation of an executive and I would strongly encourage the parties to continue that intensive process and to bring that about, to make that happen and to see the restoration of devolved government that everyone wants to have and wants to see back in place."

The DUP's refusal to sign off on a Sinn Fein demand for a free-standing piece of legislation that would enshrine statutory protections for Irish speakers is one of the key obstacles preventing the re-establishment of a coalition executive in Belfast.

While the DUP is prepared to countenance legislative protections for Irish as part of a wider piece of legislation that also incorporates the Ulster-Scots culture, the party is set against a free-standing Irish language act.

Formal roundtable talks involving the five main Stormont parties and the UK and Irish governments have still not resumed after they were parked for the summer.

Sinn Fein and the DUP are instead engaged in a series of private meetings - discussions that are due to continue this week.

Mr Brokenshire said there had been a change in pace of that bilateral process.

"That has intensified and deepened and I warmly welcome that," he said.

On Sunday, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he was committed to restoring powersharing and rejected any suggestion his party had given up on Stormont.

In response, DUP MLA Simon Hamilton welcomed as a "step forward" what he described as a "change of tone" from Mr Adams.

More on this topic

Mary Lou McDonald: January Stormont election can be averted despite deadlockMary Lou McDonald: January Stormont election can be averted despite deadlock

No appetite for Stormont reform, Arlene Foster claimsNo appetite for Stormont reform, Arlene Foster claims

Stormont MLAs have been paid €17m since Assembly collapse in 2017Stormont MLAs have been paid €17m since Assembly collapse in 2017

Bid launched to recall Stormont Assembly for second dayBid launched to recall Stormont Assembly for second day


More in this Section

We just want financial and employment security say Ireland's 20-year-olds We just want financial and employment security say Ireland's 20-year-olds

Headstones erected at unmarked graves of 1920 Bloody Sunday victimsHeadstones erected at unmarked graves of 1920 Bloody Sunday victims

Limerick University Hospital's second MRI scanner will have 'very significant impact' on waiting timesLimerick University Hospital's second MRI scanner will have 'very significant impact' on waiting times

Six women and five men to face charges relating to over 200 counts of sexual abuse and child neglectSix women and five men to face charges relating to over 200 counts of sexual abuse and child neglect


Lifestyle

Sorting out Cork people for ages...Ask Audrey: Is it still ok to just lob the gob after 10 pints?

Nip those winter ailments in the bud with the help of garden bounty. Fiann Ó Nualláin shows you how.Have a berry merry Christmas with the help of garden bounty

Dig a planting hole around three times the size of its pot and around the same depth, loosening the soil around the hole.Your quick guide to planting trees

The early morning routine is always the same. I get up, have a quick breakfast before helping my brother, who I live with, get his kids ready for school.Working Life with Dr Muslim Moula Buksh

More From The Irish Examiner