Adams not expecting Stormont deal by Monday

The British Prime Minister spoke with the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin by phone overnight

Adams not expecting Stormont deal by Monday

File photo: Locked gates at Stormont in Belfast, as negotiations to salvage power sharing continue, 27-03-2017. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has warned that he does not expect a deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont to be agreed by Monday's deadline.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin by phone overnight in a bid to boost the talks.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is due to make a statement on Monday to reveal Westminster’s plans – with the prospect of direct rule from London becoming more likely if talks fail to reach conclusion by the deadline.

Phone conversations

A Downing Street spokesperson said Prime Minister Theresa May assured DUP leader Arlene Foster that it remains a priority for the British government to see power sharing restored as soon as possible.

She said Westminster will do everything possible to reach a successful conclusion and warned of the importance of maintaining the momentum of the talks so that the Stormont Executive can be restored “in the interest of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Separately Mrs May told Sinn Féin’s leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill that the UK government remains “steadfast in our commitment to making sure Northern Ireland has the political stability it requires.”

The spokesperson said the Prime Minister had recognised that “constructive discussions” had taken place between the parties and urged them to “come together reach a collective agreement.”

Irish Language Act

The row over the Irish Language Act remains a real sticking point between the parties.

The DUP has insisted that there are bigger issues facing the region than language – however Sinn Fein's Connor Murphy said the “scaremongering” around the issue needs to stop.

“[The Irish identity] has as much validity in this part of Ireland as the British identity and that needs to be reflected in the operation of these institutions,” he said.

“The Irish Language Act is not about imposing things on other people. It is about a recognition that my Irishness is as valid as Arlene Foster’s Britishness in terms of how this institution works.”

Matter of urgency

Sinn Féin has appealed to both the British and Irish governments to engage as a “matter of urgency” to help secure agreement – warning that DUPs confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives in Westminster is not helping the situation.