Stormont executive could be back within weeks, Coveney says

Minister confident there were only a small number of issues to be resolved between parties

‘We are not quite there yet. I suspect there is at least another week in this yet’ Minister for Foreign Affairs   Simon Coveney said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘We are not quite there yet. I suspect there is at least another week in this yet’ Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Stormont could be fully functioning within a matter of weeks.

Speaking at an All-Island Civil Dialogue, Mr Coveney said he had spoken to the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin in recent days and was confident there were only a small number of issues to be resolved.

The Minister said the mood between the two parties had improved a lot and both were eager to make progress on some difficult issues.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Coveney added: “We are trying to work through what are a a relatively small number of issues left now in order for the parties to work together with the other parties in Northern Ireland as well, to put hopefully a fully inclusive executive in place within the next number of weeks.

“But we are not quite there yet. I suspect there is at least another week in this yet.”

The institutions collapsed in January in a dispute between the DUP and Sinn Féin about a botched green energy scheme. Discussions have been ongoing since but have failed to reach a conclusion.

Mr Coveney admitted the current instability is no longer sustainable and it was imperative the House would function again.

He said: “There hasn’t been any political decision making in Northern Ireland since the start of the year so practical things like health care, education, response to flooding for example, needs political input and that isn’t there,” he said.

“Nobody wants decisions being made for day-to-day life made in London or somewhere else.

“It is really important in the context of big issues like Brexit, the Bombardier case, that Northern Ireland has its own voice and own government.”