Coveney says Arlene Foster has made 'real effort' to reach compromise in North

Foreign Affairs Minister says he has never before heard a DUP leader "commit to legislating for the Irish language"

Coveney says Arlene Foster has made 'real effort' to reach compromise in North

File photo of Arlene Foster in Dublin. Image:

The Foreign Affairs Minister has praised the DUP leader for 'making a real effort' to resolve the stalemate in Northern Ireland.

The North has been without an Executive since the Stormont Assembly collapsed in January.

Talks between the DUP, Sinn Féin and various smaller parties got underway after the election in March, but so far no agreement has been reached to restore power-sharing.

Arlene Foster has said she is prepared to do a deal on key issues like the Irish language, once power-sharing resumes.

Sinn Féin, however, has rejected the idea.

Michelle O'Neill, the party's leader in the North, suggested: "Establishing an executive that may collapse after a matter of months on the same issues will only fail all our people."

Gerry Adams had previously warned that there can be no resolution to the political deadlock in the North without Irish language rights.

Speaking on Newstalk's On The Record today, Simon Coveney praised Arlene Foster for attempting to reach a compromise.

Minister Coveney argued: "It is the first time that I have ever heard a leader of the DUP commit to legislating for the Irish language.

"It's the first time I've heard a leader of the DUP say that unionism has nothing to fear from facilitating and supporting the use of the Irish language in Northern Ireland. I think it does change the tone of the debate."

He added: "I don't believe the deal that was offered by Arlene Foster is going to be the basis of agreement - and as you see, Sinn Féin have rejected that as a solution to getting devolved government up and running again.

"I think Arlene Foster has made a real effort this week to try and move things towards a position of more compromise [...] but we still have a lot of talking to do."

Both Minister Coveney and the UK's Northern Secretary James Brokenshire are expected to travel to Northern Ireland in the coming days, as fresh efforts are made to resume power-sharing talks.

You can listen back to Chris Donoghue's full interview with Simon Coveney below: