Stormont talks deadline to be further extended to June

Talks have been ongoing since an election in March

Stormont talks deadline to be further extended to June

The Parliament Buildings in Stormont, Belfast | Image:

Updated 21:58

The deadline on power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland is set to be extended to the end of June, according to reports.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Secretary of State James Brokenshire are attending talks in Belfast.

Mr Brokenshire is due to make a statement on the situation in the House of Commons next week.

The deadline for the formation of a new executive was previously extended until May.

But this new deadline would move the Stormont issue after the British general election on June 8th.

Speaking in Belfast following a round of meetings with Mr Brokenshire and northern political parties, Minister Flanagan said tangible progress has been made over the past six weeks.

"When we paused these talks before the Easter break, I felt we were in a reasonable place. Some crucial issues remained to be resolved but there were encouraging signs that parties were willing to make best efforts to achieve such a resolution," he said.

"The announcement of a General Election has undoubtedly changed the context for these talks and may impact on their prospects for success in the short term.

"For understandable reasons, it is difficult for parties to contemplate compromises on sensitive issues while, at the same time, preparing to compete in an election.

“I understand that the Bill to be published tomorrow, and introduced in Westminster next week by the Secretary of State, will address the question of the period during which an Executive can be formed within the mandate of the current Assembly. Clearly, the sooner the Executive can be established the better

Assembly elections

Sinn Féin secured its best-ever performance at assembly elections in March, cutting the DUPs 10-seat advantage to one.

Talks have reportedly been constructive but there has been little progress on key issues - such as the future of the Irish Language Act and methods for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

The main parties have blamed each other for the stalemate.

One of the issues holding up the talks is Brexit.

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill has accused the British government of preferring no assembly over one which is opposed to Brexit.

However, her party has been calling for Northern Ireland to be granted special status when the UK leaves the European Union.