Last-ditch effort to restore Stormont Executive in Northern Ireland

The region is facing direct rule from Westminster

Last-ditch effort to restore Stormont Executive in Northern Ireland

The Parliament Buildings in Stormont, Belfast | Image:

The Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is meeting party leaders in Belfast later in a last-ditch effort to restore the Stormont government.

For the first time in a decade, the region faces direct rule from Westminster.

Civil servants have been running Northern Ireland for six months.

However there is no agreed budget and no minister in any department.

It follows a rejection by Sinn Féin of a DUP proposal on the Irish language, who could have seen the restoration of the assembly.

Speaking to Newstalk's On The Record on Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney praised DUP leader Arlene Foster for attempting to reach a compromise.

"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."