NI Secretary Julian Smith has met with DUP representatives in London in a bid to secure a breakthrough in the powersharing talks.

The exchanges at Westminster came hours after Mr Smith blamed the party for preventing a pre-Christmas deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 2:09 pm
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith

Mr Smith tweeted: "I have had a positive meeting with members of @duponline this morning at Westminster. I am confident that we can move things forward."

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said his party would not sign up to a "quick fix" deal that could fall apart later.

"We asked for the meeting with Julian Smith after his comments, his very unhelpful comments yesterday, and we made it quite clear that of course as a unionist party we wanted the stability of devolution in Northern Ireland not however not an assembly at any cost," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues Jeffrey Donaldson and Gavin Robinson meet with Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith at Stormont House.

Proposals to reform the contentious petition of concern voting mechanism have emerged as a key sticking point in efforts to seal a deal. The DUP are also seeking changes to ensure the assembly is more stable going forward, and cannot be pulled down readily.

Mr Wilson said it was strange the UK Government had been unwilling to blame Sinn Fein for its role in the crisis but suddenly Mr Smith was "pointing the finger" at the DUP.

"If he had a rush of blood to the head yesterday hopefully now he is going to go back to being impartial on these issues," he said.

Mr Wilson added: "We wanted to move forward and have as quick an outcome to these talks as possible but we will not be simply accepting any kind of deal just to satisfy his desire to have the assembly up and running."

He said he did not want the process to drag on. He added: "We are not prepared to go for a quick fix which then falls apart at some point in the future."