UK to deliver update on Stormont impasse

The British Government will deliver an update on the Stormont negotiations later.

UK to deliver update on Stormont impasse

The British Government will deliver an update on the Stormont negotiations later.

An impasse over how much information the UK Government will disclose on its role during the Troubles is holding up a deal to save powersharing.

The stand-off between Sinn Féin and the British Government effectively dashed hopes of an agreement being struck last week.

Northern Ireland Office minister Ben Wallace will address a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (Bipa) at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire.

Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable George Hamilton and Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan will brief parliamentarians on security.

Negotiations in Belfast involving the main Stormont parties and the British and Irish governments are set to continue this week.

It is understood the basis of a broad agreement has been reached between the two major parties in the coalition Executive – the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin – but the logjam over disclosure stands in the way of an overall deal.

It is also not clear if the three other main Stormont parties – the Ulster Unionists, the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party and the cross-community Alliance Party – will sign off on any proposals, although their support is not theoretically required for them to be implemented.

The main obstacle relates to republican and nationalist concerns around the British Government’s position on potentially withholding some information, on national security grounds, from new Troubles truth recovery mechanisms.

Some issues remain to be resolved around finances, including welfare reform implementation and government investment commitments, and the shape of proposed cross-border initiatives to tackle the scourge of paramilitarism. It is understood those matters are not viewed as insurmountable.

But either Sinn Féin or the British Government will need to give significant ground on disclosure for a comprehensive accord to be reached.

The Bipa meeting will also assess the implications for Ireland of a possible UK exit from the EU. David Lidington, Europe minister at the British Foreign Office, will address the Assembly.

Laurence Robertson, British co-chairman of the Assembly, said: “We will be discussing a number of very important issues at the Assembly meeting, such as the current political and security situations in Northern Ireland, as well as the ongoing relationship between the UK and Ireland and the future of the relationship between the UK and the EU.”

Irish co-chairman Frank Feighan hoped the Stormont talks would conclude positively.

“We wish all parties involved the very best in their ongoing engagement.

“I commend them all on their demonstrable commitment to reach an agreement and secure the future of Northern Ireland.”

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