Michelle O’Neill: Talks to restore powersharing should continue

Talks to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland should not be suspended for the summer, Michelle O’Neill said.

Negotiations have involved “tinkering round the edges” without confronting the main issues preventing agreement, the Sinn Fein deputy leader added.

A fresh bid to restore the institutions was launched earlier this year following the shooting dead of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans in Londonderry.

Ulster powersharing
Ulster powersharing

Mrs O’Neill told BBC Northern Ireland’s Sunday Politics programme any suggestion of a suspension was “just speculation”.

“It’s not something which the governments have discussed with any of the parties, they certainly haven’t talked about it with us.

“I think the process itself has been constructive to a point, but it hasn’t actually crunched down and actually dealt with the issues which we need to deal with in order to restore the institutions.”

Powersharing government at Stormont collapsed more than two years following the break down in relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

The parties remain split over the place of the Irish language in society, abortion and the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Numerous attempts to reach a resolution have ended without success.

Ms O’Neill said her party would not attend a summer drinks reception to be hosted by Karen Bradley this week.

The Northern Ireland Secretary is leading talks involving the five main Stormont parties and the Irish Government.

The two Governments have said the discussions have reached an intensified stage and promised to review progress this month.