Stormont talks: Sinn Féin proposes resumption date

Michelle O'NeillImage copyright
Press Eye

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Michelle O’Neill said the next round of talks should be “focused and time-limited”

Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill has written to the UK and Irish governments proposing a formal resumption of the Stormont talks.

She has suggested Monday 28 August for parties to get back around the table to try and restore power-sharing.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Simon Hamilton described the proposal as a “stunt” and said his party was ready to form an executive months ago.

NI 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.

Mrs O’Neill said the latest round of talks should be “focused and time-limited”.

“With limited engagement since the talks concluded on 4 July, I am keen to formally re-engage at the earliest opportunity in order to re-establish an executive and power sharing institutions on a proper and sustainable footing,” she said.

“Moreover, I do not believe there is much public appetite, or need, for another drawn-out phase of talks.

The most significant sticking points between the two main unionist and nationalist parties are disagreements over an Irish language act, same-sex marriage, a bill of rights and measures to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann said: “While they might want to appear like they are driving this process forward, if Sinn Féin approach this set of talks with their red lines in place it is difficult to see how progress can be made.

“In the time since the last process was parked we have continued to engage with civic society.

“It is clear from these meetings that the voluntary and community sector, business, trade unions, student unions, health charities and many more all share our frustration at the lack of progress to date.”

Northern Ireland’s institutions collapsed amid a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the DUP’s handling of an inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.

In January, the late Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Féin, resigned in protest, triggering a snap election in March.

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