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Irish PM Calls for Urgent Restoration of Northern Ireland Government


FILE - Ireland's Prime minister Leo Varadkar arrives for the EU Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, Nov. 17, 2017.

Ireland's prime minister called for the urgent restoration of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government Monday after talks to end a year-long political stalemate broke down yet again last week.

Both the British and Irish governments have said they want to get the talks back on track but neither have suggested when Irish nationalists Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) should return to the negotiating table.

The British province has been without a devolved executive for over a year since Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory coalition with their arch-rivals that has been central to a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence there.

"The [Irish] government will continue to engage with the parties in Northern Ireland and the British government to support the urgent formation of a new executive," Varadkar said in a statement after meeting with Sinn Fein and speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by phone.

FILE - Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein Deputy Michelle O'Neill hold a news conference to explain the breakdown of talks about the power-sharing agreement, at the parliament buildings Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Feb. 15, 2018.
FILE - Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein Deputy Michelle O'Neill hold a news conference to explain the breakdown of talks about the power-sharing agreement, at the parliament buildings Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Feb. 15, 2018.

Before meeting Varadkar, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said there should be no delay in resuming talks that she and both governments believe were close to a successful outcome before the DUP pulled out over a disagreement on additional rights for Irish-language speakers.

DUP leader Arlene Foster reiterated her call for London to take further financial control of the region, saying her party remained committed to devolution "but not at any price."

Britain has already had to take steps toward governing the region directly for the first time in a decade and many fear a return to full British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists.

Britain has said it is absolutely committed to restoring the power-sharing administration and Varadkar repeated on Monday that his government did not want to see the introduction of direct rule across the border.

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