Northern Ireland talks to resume on May 7

Northern Ireland talks to resume on May 7
Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley at today's press conference at Stormont in Belfast.

Update: Talks on the restoration of the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland are to resume on May 7, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has said.

In a joint press conference in Belfast with the Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Ms Bradley announced that talks on the restoration of power-sharing institutions will resume on May 7.

Ms Bradley said the “sickening” murder of journalist Lyra McKee had “deeply shocked everyone across the world”.

“Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist, a role model for many, who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place,” said Ms Bradley.

“Since Lyra’s death, communities across Northern Ireland and the political spectrum have come together, united in condemnation at this murderous act.

“They have delivered a clear message – the people responsible for this act of terrorism have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and have no place in society.”

Ms Bradley said the security situation in Northern Ireland had been “transformed” and the province was now a “dynamic, modern, outward-looking” place.

But she added: “There remain small numbers of dissident republicans who remain intent on killing.

“Our challenge is to ensure that we continue to work for peace for the whole community.”

Ms Bradley said: “Lyra symbolised the new Northern Ireland and her tragic death cannot be in vain.

“All of us must take inspiration from what Lyra achieved in her life and work even harder to make Northern Ireland a brighter, more peaceful and prosperous place for everyone.”

Ms Bradley said it was her “absolute determination” for new talks to succeed and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement must be “upheld and defended”.

She said: “These talks offer the chance to move forward to restore the political institutions and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland…

“We have a narrow window in which genuine progress can be made and we must act now.”

Earlier: Leo Varadkar and Theresa May confirm fresh all-party talks in the North

An agreement has been reached to establish a new round of talks involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar have said in a joint statement.

Negotiations are expected to take place as soon as possible after local council elections in Northern Ireland on May 2. All the main parties will be invited.

On Wednesday, Catholic peacemaking priest Father Martin Magill challenged politicians as to why it had taken the death of 29-year-old Lyra McKee shot by dissident republicans to unite them, at her funeral.

The Taoiseach and British Prime Minister's statement said: "In coming together with other political leaders in St Anne's Cathedral to pay tribute to Lyra McKee, we gave expression to the clear will and determination of all of the people of these islands to reject violence and to support peace and a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Leo Varadkar and Theresa May in 2017.
Leo Varadkar and Theresa May in 2017.

"We also heard the unmistakable message to all political leaders that people across Northern Ireland want to see a new momentum for political progress. We agree that what is now needed is actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership.

"We have agreed to establish a new process of political talks, involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, together with the UK and Irish Governments, in accordance with the three-stranded process. The aim of these talks is quickly to re-establish to full operation the democratic institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement - the NI Executive, Assembly and North-South Ministerial Council - so that they can effectively serve all of the people for the future.

"We have asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Tánaiste to meet later today in Belfast to set out our proposed approach and to commence the talks process as soon as possible after the local elections in Northern Ireland.

"In addition, we have agreed that there should be a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference during the same period. The Conference will consider East/West relations, security cooperation, and political stability in Northern Ireland.

"We understand the complexity of the underlying concerns of all parties, and the need for renewed trust, mutual respect, generosity and new thinking to resolve the issues.

"As Prime Minister and Taoiseach, we are determined to work together to ensure this process comes to a successful conclusion.

"We will review progress at the end of May."

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