Dublin and London to explore reinstatement of NI Assembly

Talks to take place with five main parties in North on Friday despite Sinn Féin pessimism

A protester holds a placard that reads ‘We Deserve Better Politics’ at Stormont. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

A protester holds a placard that reads ‘We Deserve Better Politics’ at Stormont. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

The British and Irish governments are to hold talks on Friday with the North’s five main parties seeking to determine if there is any real prospect of restoring the Northern Executive and Assembly.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Secretary Karen Bradley will join the parties in the exploratory discussions at Stormont House.

Ms Bradley is expected to make a statement in the House of Commons next week on the British-Irish efforts to restore the powersharing institutions.

Dublin and London had hoped that the talks would be conducted in secret. However, details were released on social media.

In the face of Brexit there is no expectation of an imminent breakthrough. Nonetheless, the two governments believe there is merit in examining whether in the coming months progress could be made to reinstate Stormont.

Sinn Féin pessimism

Reflecting the current pessimism, Sinn Féin MLA and negotiator Conor Murphy said there was “no indication that the DUP or the British government are serious about resolving the outstanding issues and removing the obstacles to powersharing”.

“This is not a serious or credible attempt to restore the political institutions of the Good Friday agreement,” he said.

“Sinn Féin will not be part of a sham process to give credibility to the continued denial of rights,” he added. “We have no interest in talks for the sake of talking. It must be about delivery.”

Mr Murphy said Sinn Féin would attend the talks.” We will be seeking credible and urgent proposals to resolve the issues at the heart of this impasse,” he said.

“If the DUP is not prepared to deal with the outstanding issues, then the two governments must set out how they will implement the agreements and secure the rights of citizens including women, the LGBTI community, Irish-language speakers and victims of conflict,” said Mr Murphy.

“Both governments should bring forward proposals to deal with these outstanding issues,” he added.