N. Ireland power-sharing talks enter 'decisive phase'

Theresa May will visit Belfast today

Theresa May will visit Belfast today

If nothing else, in a renewed executive her party will be able to take another step forward in ensuring the human rights of her supporters in the North of Ireland are protected and enhanced.

DUP leader Arlene Foster also told reporters late Monday that her party remained committed to finding a deal to restore the devolved government, "but it has to be an accommodation that's good for everybody".

United Kingdom and Irish leaders on Monday (12 February) increased pressure on Northern Ireland's parties to end a 13-month deadlock and form a government.

Theresa May is flying to Belfast today, in the hope of breaking the deadlock over the power-sharing government which collapsed more than a year ago.

"We want the Executive and Assembly up and running".

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A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he and Mrs May would assess the state of play in the negotiations between the parties.

Her statement continued: "I have made it consistently clear that unionists will not countenance a stand alone or free standing Irish Language Act".

"We are the generation of Republicans who will see the rising of the moon", she said.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: "We believe we are close to an agreement".

She added: "We continue to have those conversations and we will continue to have conversations with Sinn Fein around the outstanding matters and indeed with our own government as well".

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She insisted that the DUP and Sinn Fein "have been working very hard to close the remaining gaps".

"Nothing is insurmountable. If there is the political will to reach an agreement we certainly have the determination to find a resolution".

However, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said that an Irish Language Act was essential to any deal to restore the political institutions.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that the deal is yet to be finalized.

On the issue of Brexit and the Irish border, the premier said he sought and received assurances from Mrs May that the first stage agreement reached between the two governments in December would be put into law.

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It was widely reported yesterday that a finalised deal was imminent, with both Varadkar and May changing plans in order to be present at talks in Belfast.

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