Sinn Féin call for ‘focused’ talks when Stormont negotiations resume

Conor Murphy says James Brokenshire has no new ideas on how to break deadlock

Northern Secretary James Brokenshire: he said business leaders must “keep using their influence to encourage political parties to deliver a functioning and effective Executive”. Photograph: Getty Images

Northern Secretary James Brokenshire: he said business leaders must “keep using their influence to encourage political parties to deliver a functioning and effective Executive”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Sinn Féin has called for a “short, focused” series of negotiations aimed at restoring the Northern Executive and Assembly.

Sinn Féin senior negotiator Conor Murphy, after leading a delegation in talks with Northern Secretary James Brokenshire, said there was no need for a “protracted” talks process to reinstate the Stormont powersharing institutions.

Behind-the-scenes contacts have been continuing over recent weeks involving the British and Irish governments and the North’s five main parties ahead of resumed intensive negotiations which are expected to start in late August or early September.

These have included some discussions involving the DUP and Sinn Féin, according to senior sources.

Sinn Féin MLA Mr Murphy said Mr Brokenshire did not offer any new ideas on how to reinstate the Northern Executive and Assembly when they spoke at Stormont on Monday afternoon.

“We have heard nothing new from the Secretary of State during our meeting on how these talks will be conducted,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Brokenshire, while on a visit to the United States last week, said the British governments was “thinking carefully” about how to make progress when the negotiations resume.

Negotiators

One of those ideas, it is understood, is taking the talks away from Northern Ireland to try to concentrate the minds of the negotiators.

Mr Brokenshire said in the US: “There are always risks around doing something different – as to whether that unpicks or undermines the progress that has already been achieved – but we are thinking carefully and thoughtfully as to what the next steps might need to be, how best to encourage that spirit of compromise and resolution. We are quietly doing that now.”

However, Mr Murphy was adamant there were no new ideas at Monday afternoon’s meeting. He said what was required to strike a deal was a “short, focused time frame” for the process when it restarts.

“It is our clear view, and we have been saying this since January, and we have been as frustrated as I am sure the general public watching, that these issues could be resolved within a matter of days.

“It is very clear what the issues are. It is very clear where the gaps are. It’s around rights-based issues. We have no interest in getting into a very protracted process. which is just about process itself and nothing else.”

Business leaders

Mr Brokenshire, meanwhile, urged Northern Ireland business leaders “to continue adding their voices to the growing demand for a return of the devolved powersharing government”.

Mr Brokenshire, after meeting his business advisory group at Stormont on Monday, said business leaders must “keep using their influence to encourage political parties to deliver a functioning and effective Executive so we can continue to build an economy that works for everyone”.

“Political stability is a fundamental basis for industrial success. Securing stable devolved institutions in Northern Ireland that will provide leadership, support innovation and boost skills will be integral to delivering on Northern Ireland’s potential as a place to invest and do business.”