Windsor Framework amendment talks between London and DUP finished, Sinn Féin says

Northern Ireland Office rejects Sinn Féin’s claim as ‘totally incorrect’ and says discussions with DUP ongoing

Negotiations between the British government and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on potential changes to the post-Brexit Windsor Framework deal are “now over”, according to Sinn Féin.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said on Sunday that the “British government has confirmed to the Sinn Féin leadership that the Windsor Framework negotiation with the DUP is now over, and concluded”.

But the DUP rejected the claim and insisted there was “further work yet to be completed” before it would “consider negotiations with the UK government concluded”.

“The UK government is aware of that. Sinn Féin has not been a part of the process and therefore, regardless of what they are being told, they will not be in a position to make pronouncements on the issues,” a DUP spokesman said.


The Northern Ireland Office described Sinn Féin’s claim as “totally incorrect”, adding that “discussions with the DUP continue”.

The development comes in advance of Monday’s round-table talks between the North’s five main political parties and northern secretary Chris Heaton-Harris on Stormont finances.

It is the first time the parties have held discussions with the UK government since July and takes places amid ongoing political deadlock and serious budgetary pressures with civil servants tackling a £300 million (€350 million) “black hole” and widespread public sector strikes.

The North has had no functioning government for 22 months since the DUP collapsed the powersharing executive in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The party’s decision to attend the talks at Hillsborough Castle has led to mounting speculation that a deal between it and the UK government is imminent, bringing an end to the impasse.

Earlier on Sunday, it emerged that DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson had told party members over the weekend that more work was needed before the party would return to the devolved institutions.

He said that people were getting “over-excited” by the announcement of the Hillsborough meeting and stressed that the finance discussions should be viewed as separate from the DUP talks with the UK government on the Windsor Framework.

He added: “It is nonetheless a step forward in that the government seem to be focused on Northern Ireland finances and accepting the case we have been making, for several years, that Northern Ireland is underfunded.

“Monday’s round-table is distinct from our discussions with the government regarding the NI Protocol/Windsor Framework.

“Those talks continue to make progress, but more work is required to conclude that process if we are to have arrangements acceptable to unionists as well as nationalists.”

He confirmed he would attend Monday’s meeting with party deputy leader Gavin Robinson MP and DUP finance spokesman Gordon Lyons.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader Michelle O’Neill and MLA Conor Murphy have confirmed they will attend.

On Friday, Mr Murphy signalled that alternative forms of governing the North should be examined if the DUP’s Stormont boycott continued.

“If the DUP are going to prevent this [Stormont’s restoration], we need to move on to whatever happens next. But we cannot continue to be in limbo at the behest of the DUP,” he said.

“They have left us without a government here for almost two years now.

“The consequences of that have been very dire for our public services and to say to people they are not in any hurry to fix this, I think, is absolutely reprehensible.”

His comments come four months after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called for “conversations about alternatives, about Plan B” between the Irish and UK governments if an autumn deadline to restore Stormont was missed.

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Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times