Arlene Foster says NI parties are in ‘space where they want to do a deal’

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster spoke to reporters in Stormont’s Great Hall

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader has said she believes the main Stormont parties are in the space to reach a deal to restore power sharing.

Arlene Foster was speaking as talks aimed at breaking the political deadlock continue.

She dismissed suggestions relations between the parties were deteriorating.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland will mark three years without devolved government, after Sinn Féin and the DUP split in a bitter row in January 2017.

Earlier on Tuesday, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith returned to Stormont after updating the prime minister and cabinet about the talks.

Draft deal text

Boris Johnson said everything possible must be done to restore the executive by Monday 13 January, according to a government spokesperson.

If the parties do not reach agreement by that date, a fresh assembly election could be called.

It is understood the British and Irish governments are planning to table a text of a draft deal at some stage this week.

Mr Smith was due to meet Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney at Stormont on Tuesday afternoon.

The DUP and Sinn Féin are at odds over several issues when it comes to restoring Stormont, including legislation for an Irish language act.

‘Blown out of proportion’

Mrs Foster said the conversation about that issue was continuing with Sinn Féin.

She also repeated her party’s position that it will only accept a “fair and balanced deal”.

The DUP leader also downplayed reports that there had been a bad-tempered meeting between party leaders on Monday.

“Things are blown out of proportion sometimes,” Mrs Foster said.

“I think everybody is in the space where they want to do a deal.

“Let’s get down and focus and make sure we achieve that deal,” she added.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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