Further efforts to restore powersharing in the North set to get underway

It has been over a year since the Stormont Assembly collapsed

Further efforts to restore powersharing in the North set to get underway

File photo of Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, 04-02-2010. Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews

Talks aims at restoring power sharing in the North get underway later.

It has been over a year since the Stormont Assembly collapsed.

This afternoon, Northern Secretary Karen Bradley and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney are to meet with the five main parties in an effort to break the deadlock.

These are the first roundtable talks to take place in the North since June.

A number of private meetings have taken place between the Sinn Féin and the DUP over the past two weeks - after the Irish and British Governments announced fresh talks in mid January.

Ms Bradley has warned that the talks need to take place now - as she is due to report back to MP's on the process on Wednesday.

It is hoped the discussions will provide a clearer picture on where the parties stand and what differences remain.

The new Dean of Belfast Stephen Forde told Q Radio News that many people are counting on the politicians to return to work:

“There are so many issues in our community that need resolution in terms of the practicalities of running our society – from health to education to the environment,” he said.

“We need our politicians to be, as it were, at their desks.”

Crisis talks

Politicians have sat through a number of rounds of crisis talks aimed at restoring the Stormont Executive – however all have failed to produce any agreement.

The status of the Irish language, marriage equality and legacy issues all remain major sticking points in the talks.

Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of a standalone Irish Language Act, bringing Gaeilge onto a par with English in the region.  

The DUP had proposed a hybrid act, accommodating both the Irish language and those who speak in Ulster-Scots.

The introduction of a stand-alone act was agreed by all parties at the landmark St Andrews talks that restored devolution in 2007.

The SDLP has called on the Irish and British Governments to publish a joint paper outlining their view on what represents a fair deal.