Theresa May to meet Sinn Fein and DUP leaders separately at Downing Street

Northern Ireland's political leaders will later hold talks with the Prime Minister on the ongoing powersharing crisis at Stormont.

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 8:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:02 pm
British prime minister, Theresa May, pictured during her speech in Florence, Italy on Friday.

Democratic Unionist and Sinn Fein delegations will have separate meetings with Theresa May at Downing Street on Tuesday morning.

Brexit is also set to feature high on the agenda as DUP leader Arlene Foster and then Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams sit down with Mrs May at No 10.

Northern Ireland has been without a properly functioning powersharing administration since January.

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The institutions imploded when the late Martin McGuinness quit as deputy first minister amid a row about a botched green energy scheme.

The rift over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) affair exposed a series of more deep-seated issues dividing the region’s two largest parties.

One of the key obstacles now standing in the way of a deal is a proposed piece of legislation to protect Irish language speakers in the region.

Sinn Fein has argued an Irish Language Act is an unimplemented commitment from the 2006 St Andrews Agreement that first paved the way for the republican party to enter power with the DUP.

The DUP remains opposed to a standalone bill and have instead suggested a cross-community act with provisions for both Irish and Ulster Scots.

The party claims the Irish language provisions within the St Andrews’ Agreement related to a side deal between Sinn Fein and the UK government and was not approved by it.

Multiple Government-set deadlines to form an administration have fallen by the wayside and the region is edging toward the re-imposition of direct rule by Westminster.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire intervened earlier this month to set a budget for Stormont’s rudderless public services.

While Mr Brokenshire insisted the move was not a step on the road to direct rule, many politicians in the region disagreed and characterised it as huge stride to London taking up the reins of power.