Kenny ‘hopeful and happy’ talks deal can be done within days

Enda Kenny is meeting David Cameron on Monday afternoon
Enda Kenny is meeting David Cameron on Monday afternoon

Enda Kenny has said he hopes a Stormont deal can be reached within days to resolve the political crisis threatening power sharing.

Talks began in September aimed at tackling the dispute over welfare reform, paramilitarism and budget matters.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently met Stormont’s political leaders as the pace of negotiations stepped up.

The Taoiseach told the BBC: “I am very hopeful and happy that the reports I am getting are that a deal is on here.

“I do hope it can be concluded successfully in the next couple of days.”

A vexed budget wrangle has left the power-sharing administration in Belfast facing an unsustainable black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds.

A resolution to the long-standing impasse over the Executive’s failure to implement the Government’s welfare reforms in Northern Ireland will be crucial to any breakthrough.

Exchanges involving the Government, the DUP and Sinn Fein have been ramped up in recent days.

It is understood Stormont’s leaders want the Government to commit extra funding to the power-sharing Executive, both resource and capital, as part of any settlement.

The wider negotiations, which have been ongoing for weeks, are also trying to find a way forward on other problems causing the current instability at Stormont, including the fallout from a recent murder linked to the IRA and a row over how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

While it is understood progress has been made in a number of areas, the fate of the negotiations still hangs in the balance.

Mr Kenny is meeting David Cameron at 10 Downing Street on Monday at 2pm for bilateral talks.