Theresa May meeting DUP and SF in bid to start progress on power-sharing

Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May

The Prime Minister is to meet the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein at Westminster later in a bid to kickstart progress on restoring powersharing.

It has been 13 months since the devolved institutions at Stormont collapsed in a row over a botched green energy scheme which quickly expanded to include differences over identity and the Irish language.

Months of inter-party negotiations since then have failed to produce a breakthrough, although the British Government has said progress has been made.

Hopes of a deal last week foundered over the issue of an Irish language act giving official protection to the tongue.

The Northern Ireland Secretary faces setting a budget for Northern Ireland public services from Westminster.

Sinn Fein accuses the DUP of failing to sell a deal to restore the Assembly to its grassroots but the two parties disagreed on whether a draft agreement was on the table.

The DUP has called on the British Government to pass a budget for Northern Ireland and appoint direct rule ministers at Westminster.

Sinn Fein and the Irish Government have opposed direct rule.

On Tuesday Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said she would provide “clarity” on a public services budget for next year as soon as possible and did not rule out the prospect of fresh Assembly elections.