No Power-Sharing Breakthrough As British, Irish PMs Meet In Belfast

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the stand-off cycle between the two biggest parties must be ended

After a series of high-level talks in Belfast, May said: "While differences remain, I think there is the basis of an agreement here".

The Prime Minister expressed confidence that a devolved executive would be "up and running very soon", despite the stalemate between the DUP and Sinn Féin having dragged on for 13 months.

The Taoiseach and British Prime Minister are holding crunch talks at Stormont amid growing speculation that a deal to restore powersharing is edging closer.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou Mcdonald has hinted her party is close to a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

"We are the generation of Republicans who will see the rising of the moon", she said. "It is about finding an accommodation that recognises the need to respect all languages and all cultures in Northern Ireland and not allow one to dominate over another".

Mrs Foster said: "The tone was very good".

Her refusal to stand down was the proximate reason for Sinn Fein pulling out of government previous year, because of her personal role in a fiasco over tax subsidies for "green" energy: Yet she is still there.

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The party leader added: "If the public are frustrated at the pace of progress, we all are as well".

Visiting Belfast together, British Prime Minister Theresa May and his Irish counterpart Leo Vradkar got involved in what is believed to be final stages of the talks to form a new government in the United Kingdom region after nearly one year since the parliamentary election was held in March 2017.

She said: "In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed".

True, some of the Republican ultras might perversely wish for a hard border and a return to checkpoints as a way of provoking renewed resentments and violence, but the motives of the new Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, seem honest, thus far.

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.

'The issues are clear, the issues are resolvable, there is nothing insurmountable.

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