Northern Ireland leaders race against time

Story highlights

  • DUP and also also also Sinn Féin yet to reach power-sharing deal
  • London could impose direct rule if no agreement is usually reached

The parties will be given until Monday to come to terms, Downing Street announced soon after the 4 p.m. (11 a.m. ET) cutoff, following another day of deadlock in Belfast.

James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had warned the two largest groups, the Democratic Unionist Party and also also also Sinn Féin, of which failure to come to a compromise might have “profound and also also also serious” implications.

The extension gives both sides the opportunity to avoid the prospect of direct rule coming from London and also also also restore the country’s power-sharing executive, which has not sat since January.

Though This specific might not be initially direct rule has been imposed since the signing of the historic 1998 Great Friday Agreement, which brought an end to decades of bitter sectarian conflict, the move might still be controversial.

What’s going on?

Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangement means nationalists and also also also unionists must work together, with the First Minister and also also also Deputy First Minister chosen coming from different sides.

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nevertheless the two main parties — the DUP, which wants to remain part of the United Kingdom, and also also also Sinn Féin, which is usually seeking a united Ireland — have so far failed to reach an agreement despite extensive talks.

Their joint administration collapsed in January when then-Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness — who died in March — stepped down after a dispute with then-First Minister Arlene Foster over a renewable-energy scheme.

of which triggered a snap election in which the DUP won 28 seats to Sinn Féin’s 27, doing them the two largest groups inside assembly.

The Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
Thursday’s deadline came in a week which saw the DUP reach a deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May to prop up her government.

Under the agreement, the DUP’s 10 lawmakers will back May’s minority government over the Queen’s Speech — which sets out the legislative program — as well as bills relating to national security and also also also Brexit.

In return, the UK government has pledged an extra £1 billion ($1.2bn) investment in Northern Ireland over the next two years, in addition to the £500 million ($600m) This specific had already committed.

nevertheless the deal has been heavily criticized by Sinn Féin, which said the government could no longer be impartial in attempting to maintain peace in Northern Ireland.

What are the sticking points?

DUP leader, and also also also former Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster.

The two sides are at loggerheads over many issues ranging coming from Brexit, the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict and also also also the Irish language.

Sinn Féin originally said This specific might not accept any deal under which Foster returned as First Minister — though of which stance appears to have softened.

nevertheless Sinn Féin wants to see movement coming from the DUP on many areas including same-sex marriage, which is usually legal inside rest of Britain and also also also the Republic of Ireland.

The DUP, which opposes same-sex marriage and also also also has an anti-abortion stance, is usually unlikely to budge.

Michelle O'Neill is usually the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland.
Read: Northern Ireland is usually stuck inside same old political rut

This specific is usually also resisting calls coming from Sinn Féin to introduce a measure giving the Irish language the same status as English, while agreement over how to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict remains elusive.

There are also differences over Brexit, with the DUP in favor of leaving the European Union, though This specific is usually against a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which could hamper trade and also also also harm peace inside region.

While Sinn Féin wants Northern Ireland to be granted special status with the EU, the DUP does not want anything to differentiate the region coming from the rest of Britain when This specific comes to ties with Brussels.

What happens if there is usually no deal?

If the parties fail to come to an agreement by Monday’s deadline, This specific will be up to James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland Secretary, to decide whether to reimpose direct rule or extend the deadline further.

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Another option of which could be introduced might be allowing local civil servants to take charge of the departments until a fresh round of negotiations can take place.

There is usually also the prospect of yet another Assembly election, if Brokenshire sees fit.

All eyes are currently back on Stormont, nevertheless those inside the talks have yet to offer much inside way of encouragement.

Northern Ireland leaders race against time

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