Northern Ireland

James Brokenshire won't say when NI talks will resume

James Brokenshire Image copyright OLI SCARFF
Image caption James Brokenshire said he would "come forward with further information in my own way"

The secretary of state has refused to say when talks aimed at restoring devolution at Stormont will resume.

James Brokenshire said he "would come forward with further information in my own way in respect of the next step around the talks process".

Mr Brokenshire was speaking ahead of meeting Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in Dublin.

He said discussions with the parties later this week would help inform his decision.

The secretary of state added he was going forward with "positive intent" but that "differences firmly do remain".

"My priority is to see the restoration of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, working on a sustainable basis to deliver good government for everyone," Mr Brokenshire said.

'Urgent progress required'

Mr Brokenshire said: "Over the summer I have kept in touch with the political parties and I will be bringing them together over the next week as we enter a new phase of talks.

"Urgent progress is required. The lack of an executive making key decisions on matters including health and education means that public services in Northern Ireland are suffering.

"We need to find a way forward that will allow an executive to be formed."

Mr Coveney said he planned to visit Belfast next week to meet politicians.

"Northern Ireland needs a voice through a government of its own," he said. "We need to see a resumption to those discussions and hopefully a conclusion as soon as possible.

"We don't want talks that are ongoing for a long period of time."

Sinn Féin's northern leader has written to the UK and Irish governments proposing a formal resumption of power-sharing talks.

Michelle O'Neill suggested parties should be given a tight deadline from next Monday to restore the government.

The Democratic Unionist Party's (DUP) Simon Hamilton described her proposal as a "stunt", saying his party had been ready to form an executive for months.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since January.

The coalition led by the two biggest parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, collapsed over a green energy scandal.

Formal talks were suspended without agreement at the start of July.

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