Saturday, 23 February, 2019

UK's May to meet Bill Clinton to discuss Northern Ireland crisis

James Brokenshire James Brokenshire
Melinda Barton | 20 October, 2017, 09:05

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who played a central role in brokering the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland, used a brief trip to Dublin this week to travel to Belfast and meet the main parties. "I don't have much of a portfolio here".

Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party are "no longer close" to a deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the Irish PM has said.

In a written statement, Mr Brokenshire urged the DUP and Sinn Féin to forge an agreement by this date.

He met with DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill earlier in the week.

He told MPs he would bring forward emergency legislation as soon as next week to keep the province "ticking over".

Britain will need to draw up a budget - a move one of the region's smaller parties said would effectively constitute direct rule - if an executive is not formed by the week starting November 6, James Brokenshire said.

Britain on Wednesday set a new deadline of Oct 30 for Northern Ireland's deadlocked political parties to reach a powersharing deal, warning it would otherwise have to impose direct rule.

The Stormont Executive collapsed in January this year when the late Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness resigned in protest over the way his governing partners in the DUP had handled allegations of mismanaging a renewable energy scheme.

Mr Varadkar said the sticking point for the two main parties was the "intricacies of an Irish Language Act".

Speaking to a parliamentary committee yesterday, Mr Brokenshire said: 'If I had given evidence to this committee last week I might have indicated some momentum, more progress.

"Obviously work is ongoing in trying to reach a solution and to get the compromises that are necessary to get the devolved administration up and running again", he added.

However, they stalled at the end of last week as issues around language and culture remained unresolved.