Brandon Lewis holds talks with DUP and Sinn Fein in bid to avert Stormont crisis

Northern Ireland’s two largest parties were tight-lipped following crunch talks with the secretary of state on Wednesday night

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 9:43 pm
Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Fein held discussions with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis at around 7.30pm, as efforts to avert another collapse of the powersharing administration in Northern Ireland ramped up.

Mr Lewis flew into Belfast on Wednesday for the latest round of talks with local politicians, after saying he is exploring “all options” in his efforts to keep devolved government on track.

Sinn Fein members later left Stormont in a three-car-convoy, which drove past the media without stopping for comment, despite having previously indicated they would speak to the press.

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A Sinn Fein spokesperson later said: “We have had an initial meeting.

“We’re seeking more information and clarification.”

The spokesperson added: “As and when we have the clarity we need, we will speak to the media.”

Later, the DUP leader Edwin Poots and his First Minister designate Paul Givan attended their own talks with the secretary of state .

The new DUP leadership pair left the meeting with Mr Lewis at around 8.45pm and drove off without speaking to the media.

Before the meeting, Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald told reporters their call for the government to push Irish language legislation through Westminster was the “obvious way forward.”

She said: “As you know, 48 hours ago we offered up a solution to this impasse. That is that the cultural package including Acht Gaelige, the Irish language act, goes through Westminster.”

Earlier the DUP’s economy minister Paul Frew warned that Mr Lewis “needs to be careful that he doesn’t do anything that would undermine devolution”.