NI parties and two governments still can’t get deal over line

North-South Ministerial Council meeting postponed to allow political talks continue

Stormont’s Parliament Buildings illuminated in red for Armistice Day on Wednesday. Photograph: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA

Stormont’s Parliament Buildings illuminated in red for Armistice Day on Wednesday. Photograph: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA

 

The British and Irish governments and the North’s five main parties have been unable to conclude a political deal on Thursday, as was hoped would happen earlier this week.

The negotiations will run at least into Friday, conceded the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan who was at Stormont.

Mr Flanagan said that he and the Labour Minister of State Sean Sherlock will be back at Stormont House on the Stormont estate for more talks on Friday.

The failure to strike a deal means that the North-South Ministerial Council which the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dail and Northern Executive Ministers were due to attend in Armagh tomorrow (fri) is now postponed.

There was optimism in Dublin and among DUP and Sinn Fein sources earlier this week that a deal would be done today. Despite the failure to reach agreement Mr Flanagan remained hopeful a deal would be concluded.

“Encouraging and steady progress continues to be made in the political talks at Stormont,” said this evening.

“While I am returning to Dublin this evening for a long standing engagement, I will be back in Stormont tomorrow, along with Minister of State Sherlock,” he added.

“I encourage all the parties to continue their positive engagement in this important process and remain hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved,” said Mr Flanagan.

One of the main obstacles still to be overcome, according to talks sources, is what the British government will be prepared to divulge in relation to Troubles-related killings involving British state forces.

Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has stated that dealing with the past “continue to be very sensitive”.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have been demanding legislative commitments to try to prevent the British government citing “national security” concerns to stop such information being released.