Government extends deadline for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks

The Government has extended the deadline for talks to restore a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland, with minister's claiming that the parties involved have been 'making progress'.
Northern Ireland Secretary James BrokenshireNorthern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

Secretary of Sate James Brokenshire had previously warned that the country could see a return of direct rule if a deal between the five political parties was not reached by 4pm on Thursday.

However, the deadline passed without a deal, amid reports that a disagreement over Irish language rights was proving a crucial sticking point.

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But the UK Government has now agreed to allow the talks to continue for “a few more days”, with a further statement expected next week.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government for almost six months following the resignation of the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The Sinn Fein politician stepped down in a bid to force an election after the DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster after she became embroiled in green energy scandal.

The country went to the polls in March, and four deadlines for parties to reach an agreement on restoring a power-sharing executive have now passed.

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It is understood that the two main parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin – are deadlocked over nationalist demands for an Irish language act.

Speaking after the deadline this afternoon, a Downing Street spokesman said ministers believe the parties “are making progress” and should be given “space to continue the discussions”.

Mr Brokenshire is expected to give a statement to Parliament about the future of talks on Monday.