Government extends deadline for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks
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.
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.
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.
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.