Tuesday 17 October 2017

DUP's talks with Tories 'a distraction for Stormont'

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: PA
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: PA
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Talks between the DUP and the Conservatives in Britain are a distraction from getting the Assembly in Northern Ireland back up and running, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said.

In an interview with this newspaper, Mr Coveney warned that there was no legal mechanism to extend the June 29 deadline for restoring powersharing without legislation, nor was there any appetite for it in Westminster.

"I can pretend and be politically correct about it, but it [DUP/Tory talks] is a distraction," Mr Coveney said.

"To be fair to the [other] parties, they are being quite mature about it. They will say to me and to each other, how can you expect us to sign off on a programme for government, as a basis to set up an Assembly and an Executive, until we can see the detail of this arrangement?

"If it is going to change the amount of money that is available for healthcare or for infrastructure, that has to be factored into the programme for government. You can't expect people to sign up in the dark if this is going to change things."

The DUP and Sinn Féin have until next Thursday to reach a deal to return to devolved government together in the Stormont Assembly. "If it's not up and running by the 29th, then we have a real problem. Because, there is no legal mechanism available to extend without new legislation," added Mr Coveney.

Irish Independent

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