EXCL Labour calls on Theresa May to become 'directly involved' in Stormont power-sharing talks

Posted On: 
15th February 2018

Labour has called for Theresa May's "direct involvement" in last-ditch talks to get power-sharing up and running again at Stormont.

Theresa May visited Stormont on Monday in a bid restore devolved government to Northern Ireland
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister was left humiliated last night after DUP leader Arlene Foster pulled the plug on negotiations with Sinn Fein.

Her dramatic move came just 48 hours after Mrs May had flown in to Belfast in an attempt to secure an agreement between the parties.

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Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith rebuked Mrs May for “rocking up” in Belfast more than a year after power-sharing collapsed leaving the country without a functioning legislature.  

He told PoliticsHome: "History has told us that the direct involvement of the Prime Minister can help bridge the divides in Northern Ireland - it can move things forward.

"However, to make a real difference you have to invest significant time and effort as John Major and Tony Blair both did. Theresa May, by contrast, rocked up in Belfast on Monday expecting to sign off on a deal, having done next to nothing in the previous 13 months to construct one.

"What Northern Ireland needs now is the Government to trust the public and release the details of what progress has been made by the parties and where the gaps remain."

Talks collapsed after the DUP and Sinn Fein failed to reach an agreement on a number of issues, most notably over nationalist demands for an Irish Language Act.

In a statement, Mrs Foster said “serious and significant gaps” remained between the two parties and there was “no current prospect” of restoring power-sharing to the region.

Sinn Féin have since indicated that they are prepared to continue discussions, saying they will meet both the UK and Irish governments next week.

Earlier in the week Mrs Foster was scathing about Mrs May’s involvement decision to visit Belfast, dismissing her visit as a “distraction”.