Stormont talks: DUP is holding up a deal, says Julian Smith

The DUP has prevented a pre-Christmas deal to restore Stormont power-sharing and release extra British government cash for the struggling health service, the Northern Ireland secretary has said.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 5:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 11:32 pm
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith at Stormont House at tea-time on Thursday after talks broke up
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith at Stormont House at tea-time on Thursday after talks broke up

Julian Smith said he was “deeply disappointed” and urged the Province’s largest party to reflect on its decision.

The British and Irish governments and at least three of the main Stormont parties including Sinn Fein want to re-establish the devolved institutions immediately and end a three-year hiatus which has seen public services suffer.

The DUP has said outstanding issues under negotiation will not be resolved in the coming days and a significant amount of work remained to be done to achieve a “fair and balanced” agreement.

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons

Mr Smith said: “We want all parties to be positively part of the new Stormont.

“The DUP is a crucial part of that. I don’t think time is going to make any difference, I think hanging around, delay, not making decisions is not going to make any difference, it is only going to cause more heartache and problems for citizens in Northern Ireland.

“I am deeply disappointed that we have not got all five parties in agreement.

“I just hope there is time tonight to reflect on that decision.”

Mr Smith• said there were people in the DUP who wanted to move forward.

“I would urge them to move forward so that we can get this done.”

He said his officials were ready to table a draft text of an agreement but would not now do so.

Earlier, DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said there was little prospect of a deal to restore the Stormont institutions in the next hours or days.

Mr Lyons said: “There is still a significant amount of work to do, gaps remain, for our part we are committed to bridging those gaps.

“We are willing to work with other people, we are willing to work over the next number of days into the next week – however long it takes.

“For us the important thing is not meeting a deadline but getting a deal which is fair and balanced and can get the support of people right across the community – that is what we are aiming to do.”

Stormont has not sat for almost three years.

The British and Irish governments are leading efforts to restore the devolved institutions.

Mr Lyons added: “I don’t think there is going to be a deal in the next number of hours or the next number of days.”