Brokenshire: laws ‘fast-tracked’ if deal done

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

Laws will be fast-tracked through Parliament restoring Stormont power-sharing by early next month should a deal be clinched, the Northern Ireland secretary said.

The forthcoming general election did not change the talks process involving the parties in Belfast and the UK and Irish governments, James Brokenshire added.

Recent negotiations helped distil outstanding issues and identified possible areas for consensus, he added.

Mr Brokenshire said it was his intention to introduce legislation into Parliament addressing immediate requirements such as setting a regional taxation rate to allow rates bills to be issued.

He added: “In addition, I believe it is also right to introduce provisions that would enable an Executive to be formed in early May should agreement be reached.

“To have this legislation in force in time, I will be requesting that its progress through Parliament be fast-tracked.”

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he does not believe the general election will be a major impediment to a deal being struck at Stormont.

He added: “We will continue to engage with the other parties and we hope an agreement can be reached to form a government before the general election begins in earnest.”

However, UUP MP Tom Elliot felt the election meant any chance of a deal was “pretty much dead in the water”.

He added: “The talks have not been making good progress up until now and this will only make it more unlikely that a deal can be reached.”

Talks to save devolved government were suspended before Easter. Sinn Fein had called for another election if no accord is reached and the DUP have said they are ready to fight a snap Assembly poll.