Secretary of State to hold talks with NI political parties

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire are expected to meet at Stormont House on Tuesday

Sinn Féin recently rejected a DUP proposal after leader Arlene Foster called for an immediate restoration of the assembly.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is to meet the five main political parties on Monday in a bid to end the Stormont deadlock.

"The DUP realise their arguments against the Irish language wouldn't stand up in any progressive European society which is why they are now scraping the bottom of the barrel to find excuses for continuing to say "no" to a society of equals".

Last week, Sinn Fein rejected Arlene Foster's call for restoring the devolved government. "Whether that be marriage rights, language rights, economic rights or cultural rights", she said.

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Mrs Foster said: "As appealing as it first appears, that view fails to take account of our longer-term best interests".

She added: "I am not going to be prescriptive but we do not believe that there can be a prolonged set of talks". Certainly from our part we do.

Civil servants have been left in charge of the country since January when ten years of power-sharing broke down after a scandal over a renewable heating scheme. "We have no red lines".

"It is the first time that I have ever heard a leader of the DUP commit to legislating for the Irish language".

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Foster offered to "bring forward legislation to address culture and language issues in Northern Ireland within a time-limited period to be agreed", referring to Sinn Fein's key demand for protection of the rights of Irish language speakers.

"We are not the barrier here to devolution in Northern Ireland".

"If we are to have an agreement then there will need to be a willingness on all sides to reach out in order to secure a durable outcome", she said.

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