Europe

Stormont talks: Parties 'no longer close' to deal

Leo Varadkar was speaking during a visit to areas damaged during storm Ophelia in County Kildare Image copyright RTE
Image caption Leo Varadkar was speaking in County Kildare during a visit to areas damaged during storm Ophelia

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.

Leo Varadkar said while talks looked "encouraging" at the start of last week, they became "less favourable".

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

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams has accused Mr Varadkar of being "untruthful" about Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams made his remarks in the Irish parliament as part of a wider question about Mr Varadkar's credibility.

The prime minister said the Northern Ireland parties still had to resolve "big things".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption DUP say they will not be 'bounced' into a power sharing deal.

In a speech to DUP activists in County Tyrone Arlene Foster on said that if Sinn Féin is unable or unwilling to enter into an Executive on a sensible basis then the Secretary of State should bring forward a budget for the wider good governance of Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster said the DUP would not be bounced into a deal which they judge is one sided.

The DUP leader said "Northern Ireland needs government and if that cannot be achieved at Stormont then Westminster will be required to provide it."

During a visit to areas damaged during storm Ophelia in County Kildare on Tuesday, the taoiseach spoke of the impact of Brexit, budget allocation implications and the health service as pressing issues.

'Unique voice'

"Meanwhile, both the DUP and Sinn Féin are arguing about the intricacies of an Irish Language Act," he said.

"It would seem to me that what the people of Northern Ireland want is for their politicians to get together and start looking after the business of Northern Ireland and making sure that Northern Ireland has a unique voice in these negotiations on Brexit."

The executive broke down over several issues in January, with the DUP and Sinn Féin since blaming each other for the failure to restore devolution.

Among the main sticking points in the talks is Sinn Féin's demand for legislation to give official status to the Irish language.

Last week, Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said "solid progress" had been made in negotiations with Sinn Féin for the restoration of devolution.

But she warned: "Substantial issues remain to be resolved and much more work will be required if we are to reach agreement."

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