Varadkar: Powersharing talks could could begin in the Autumn

Talks aimed at restoring Northern Ireland powersharing should be held in the autumn, Ireland's premier has said.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:52 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:04 pm
Leo Varadkar

The ministerial executive at Stormont collapsed 18 months ago and repeated rounds of negotiations have failed to restore it.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar linked the prospect of talks between the main parties in Belfast and the British and Irish governments to receiving clear answers on Brexit.

He said: “We would intend, in the autumn some time, trying again to get the parties in Northern Ireland together.”

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The Taoiseach told a media briefing in Dublin: “I think the absence of any clarity around Brexit makes that very difficult but if we can have that in October, I think there is an opportunity, certainly before the end of the year, to get the assembly and executive up and running.”

Stormont crashed in January 2017 amid a row about a botched green energy scheme.

It later widened to take in issues such as the Irish language, LGBT rights and the legacy of the Troubles.

The last bid to resurrect the troubled institutions failed in February when the DUP pulled the plug.

Sinn Fein insisted a draft deal had been signed off with the DUP at that point, and accused the party of getting cold feet in the face of an internal revolt from grassroots members angry about potential concessions in the dispute over the Irish language.

The DUP denied the claim, insisting it exchanged numerous papers with Sinn Fein during the negotiation process but none amounted to a draft agreement.

A UK Government statement said: “The Secretary of State and UK Government’s top priority remains the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

“She will continue to work with all the Northern Ireland parties - and with the Irish Government within the three stranded approach - to remove the barriers to restoring the Executive and a fully functioning Assembly.”