Stormont talks extended to Monday amid DUP-Sinn Fein deadlock
Ministers have given the DUP and Sinn Féin more time to reach a deal on power-sharing at Stormont after they failed to meet the deadline of 4pm today.
The parties now have until Monday to hammer out an agreement, when Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire is due to make a statement to parliament.
Two scheduled sittings to establish first and deputy first ministers were shelved as talks failed to progress earlier today, with the parties remaining divided on issues such as an Irish language act.
Announcing the new deadline this afternoon, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman said: "We're giving them a few more days to continue talks, which we consider have made good progress.
"We believe they are making progress and can find a resolution, and this gives them space and time to get there."
Her comments echoed those of Mr Brokenshire, who said earlier today: "Much progress has been made but a number of issues remain outstanding.
"I believe that a resolution can be found and I'm urging the parties to continue focusing all their efforts on achieving this."
Failure to reach a deal by Monday could see another Stormont election called - the third in just over a year - or a period of direct rule enforced by Westminster.
DUP Stormont member Edwin Poots said earlier that the parties were “nowhere near an agreement” and that the "ball is in the court” of Sinn Féin.
But Sinn Féin assembly member Conor Murphy piled the blame on the DUP as well as the UK government for forging a Westminster deal with the unionists to keep Theresa May in power.
“The British Government must accept its responsibility for the failure to reach agreement to date,” he said about the so-called 'confidence and supply' arrangement.
“Its alliance with the DUP has deepened DUP intransigence and arrogance and emboldened its anti-rights, anti-equality agenda."
He added: “Sinn Féin wants to see the institutions restored but that must be on a credible and sustainable basis, with equality and respect at their core and commanding public confidence.
“It is make your mind up time for the DUP.”
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