North talks adjourn as British confirm Monday deadline for deal

London says it will legislate to set a budget without agreement to restore Stormont

Gerry Adams: “We’re here to do a deal with the DUP. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Gerry Adams: “We’re here to do a deal with the DUP. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times


Talks aimed at restoring Stormont between the DUP and Sinn Féin adjourned on Friday night and will resume on Monday.

The British government has confirmed that Monday is the deadline for a deal to be reached before it would start the process of introducing a budget for Northern Ireland.

On Friday night, a DUP source said negotiations were ongoing but there is “no imminent movement” and “nobody is on the edge of their seat”.

A British government spokesman confirmed if there is no deal by Monday to restore devolved government, following its collapse in January, Secretary of State James Brokenshire will have to bring in legislation to set a budget. It is thought this could take place in London on Tuesday.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams told RTÉ radio an agreement can be reached if the DUP “enters into the era of modern political democratic norms.

“If there is no deal done by the time the British minister brings forward a budget that will signify that this phase of the talks – there will obviously have to be other phases – has been exhausted,” he said. “That is something I don’t want to see.”

Mr Adams said a deal can be done but so far the DUP has not been prepared to embrace a rights-based agenda to deliver for all citizens in the North and implement previous agreements.

“We’re here to do a deal with the DUP; there’s no other reason for us engaging in these talks, we have to get a deal that’s based on the rights of citizens. This isn’t about making new agreements, this is about the implementation and delivery of an agreement which is already made,” he said.

Disagreement over an Irish language Act is thought to be the main stumbling block, but same-sex civil marriage rights, a Bill of Rights and legacy inquest funding are also among the topics being discussed.

“Why can’t people who live in the North have the same rights as people who live in the South, or because we’re part of the British state, why can’t we have the same rights that people enjoy in England, Scotland and Wales?” Mr Adams asked.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long told BBC Radio Ulster “The mood music has deteriorated” since the summer.

“The urgency of getting an agreement has increased in almost direct inverse proportion to the likelihood of getting an agreement,” she said. She added: “Part of the problem with this phase of the talks, compared to the intense phase we had back in June, there has been very little structure, it has been reliant on Sinn Féin and the DUP taking time to engage themselves to try and resolve their differences.

“But it hasn’t been a structured process, it hasn’t been a process where others have been able to contribute to try and find ways through those difficulties and I think that is never a good way to find a solution.”