British Prime Minister May intervenes in Northern Ireland deadlock

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London, Feb 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on Thursday night with the leaders of the two main political parties in Northern Ireland following the collapse of talks aimed at restoring self-rule to the region.

May made it clear to Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill that the British government has a responsibility to consider what needs to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of its devolved executive.

The deadlock could lead to direct rule from Westminster or the calling of a new all-out election in Northern Ireland, reports Xinhua.

Home rule collapsed over a year ago in a fallout between the DUP and Sinn Fein, leaving civil servants to run the region.

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“The prime minister spoke to the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone earlier this evening about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland,” a spokesperson at 10 Downing Street was quoted as saying.

“In both phone calls the prime minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved.”

According to the spokesperson, May reiterated that restoring devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland, and the prime minister believes the basis for an agreement exists.

Mary Lou McDonald, newly elected leader in Ireland of Sinn Fein said in media interviews on Thursday that a draft agreement was in place last week to restore Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive.

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But the talks collapsed Wednesday, with the DUP saying there was no current prospect of a deal to end the deadlock.

–IANS

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