NI parties told to begin ‘urgent negotiations’

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has told parties that “urgent discussions” are now neccessary after the full results of the election became known on Saturday.

James Brokenshire said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that the clock is now ticking for them to agree to form an Executive.

For details on the full results – which have seen unionists lose their Stormont majority – see here.

His statement said in full: “Now that Assembly members have been elected, there is a limited window in which the Assembly and Executive can be restored.

“Urgent discussions need to take place to ensure inclusive devolved government resumes. These discussions will need to focus on: the establishment of a partnership Executive, and addressing other outstanding issues, including the implementation of past agreements and addressing the legacy of the past.

“The responsibility for forming a new Executive rests with the two parties eligible to nominate a First Minister and deputy First Minister, both to engage with each other and to advance discussions with all eligible parties.

“A new Executive will need to agree a Programme for Government, a budget for 2017-18 and any changes to how the Executive will work. The UK Government will engage with the parties to secure progress.

“On the wider point of addressing outstanding issues, all parties eligible to nominate NI Executive Ministers will need to be involved. The UK Government and the Irish Government will also have roles to play in accordance with the three-stranded approach.

“Discussions will focus on securing implementation on the basis of existing commitments rather than the renegotiation of prior agreements.

“In particular, there is an urgent need to resolve the implementation of the commitments concerning the legacy of the past in the Stormont House Agreement.

“Starting immediately, the UK and Irish Governments will work closely with the parties to secure progress on these issues.

“These discussions will be confidential.

“Both parts of this work are important. Political institutions operating on a basis of partnership, equality and mutual respect are at the heart of the Belfast Agreement.”

The chairman of Sinn Fein, Declan Kearney, had told the News Letter that the timeframe for getting a government up and running again rests largely with the British government – see here for full story, in which he made reference to Sinn Fein’s legacy demands.