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Ireland Stormont breakthrough 'possible by January 13 deadline' as talks get back up and running

10:55  16 december  2019
10:55  16 december  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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Look forward to starting positive process tomorrow to get Stormont back up and running .” Stormont has been in cold storage for more than 1,000 days Smith previously stated that unless agreement is reached by 13 January , fresh assembly elections will be triggered. DUP leader Arlene Foster issued

Look forward to starting positive process tomorrow to get Stormont back up and running pic.twitter.com/O2qPXcfoqE. Julian Smith has kept his role in Boris Johnson's cabinet as the Northern Ireland secretary, insisting talks must reach a breakthrough before the 13 January , or he

Arlene Foster wearing a suit and tie: DUP leader Arlene Foster. Picture: Reuters DUP leader Arlene Foster. Picture: Reuters

After three years of political stagnation there is some optimism that fresh talks on re-establishing the Northern Ireland Executive will lead to a breakthrough.

If British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reappoints Julian Smith as his Northern Ireland secretary today, he is expected to fly straight to Belfast for meetings with Tánaiste Simon Coveney and the main parties.

Sources say there is a real sense that the latest deadline for agreement of January 13 can actually be met.

Both the DUP and Sinn Féin lost a significant share of their vote in last week's Westminster elections.

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Arlene Foster said the talks failed due to disagreements with Sinn Féin about legislation for the Irish Both parties have been locked in negotiations in a bid to end the 13 -month stalemate at Stormont . Then the statement from Mrs Foster popped up on Twitter, making it very clear that this phase of

The latest round of talks began at Stormont on 24 January . In December, an official review of MLAs' salaries recommended a 13 % pay cut. The party has been frank and forthright in its insistence that Stormont won't get up and running again until a standalone act to allow that is agreed.

Mr Smith spoke with the party leaders yesterday morning and later tweeted: "Good calls with all five party leaders this morning. Look forward to starting positive process tomorrow to get Stormont back up and running."

The Assembly hasn't sat for more than 1,000 days due to a stand-off between Sinn Féin and the DUP on issues such as Irish language legislation and a ban on same-sex marriage.

But representatives of both parties have acknowledged that voters expressed frustration with the situation during the recent election campaign.

The DUP suffered a considerable blow after deputy leader Nigel Dodds lost his seat in North Belfast to Sinn Féin's John Finucane.

Likewise, Sinn Féin lost its seat in Foyle to the SDLP by a huge majority, in what is being seen as a resurgence in support for Colum Eastwood's SDLP.

Mr Coveney said the past three years have been "really damaging and polarising" for Northern Ireland. He said even basic political decisions around health, education and housing have been postponed.

"I think all parties have recognised now, including the DUP, that they would like to move on," he said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said yesterday her party had heard the "clear message" of the electorate.

While blaming Sinn Féin for collapsing the Assembly, she accepted: "Northern Ireland can only move forward when we are prepared to work together."

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny said it would enter talks without any red lines.

‘We cannot wait forever’ – Varadkar says minimum alcohol pricing will have to go ahead without NI .
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This is interesting!