Sinn Fein urges political will to find agreement

Sinn Fein has urged leaders in Northern Ireland to show political will despite the “improbable” circumstances, and seal a deal on restoring powersharing.

Uncertainty at Westminster and over Brexit form the backdrop to the latest effort to negotiate a deal between the main Stormont parties.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have indicated an intensification of the negotiating process, which is led by the British and Irish Governments.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said: “It is very reasonable, the public deserve an Assembly and Executive, one that functions well, one that serves them well, one that looks after all in society.

“We are determined to try and achieve that, so what is required in this space is political will.

“We have political will, we are willing to discuss and to talk with the other parties.

“What we are asking for is absolutely reasonable, previous agreements to be implemented, equality and respect for all citizens, integrity in government.”

Sinn Fein and the DUP are split over the place of the Irish language in society, abortion and the recognition of same-sex marriage.

The institutions collapsed more than two-and-a-half years ago following a row between the former coalition partners over the handling of a botched and overspending green energy scheme.

Endless rounds of negotiations have failed to secure a resurrection.

Mrs O’Neill added: “If you were to describe the circumstances right now, you would say they were the most improbable of circumstances.

“However, I think that we do have an opportunity here, we do have a window, we should take it, we should try our very, very best to deliver good government for all the people here.”

The DUP is willing to re-enter devolved Government immediately and then continue dialogue on issues like the Irish language.

Sinn Fein claims the unionist party could not sell an earlier draft deal to its supporters and blames it for the continuing impasse.

Mrs May and Mr Varadkar have said there is a “genuine but narrow window of opportunity” to reach agreement.

In a joint statement, the British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach said it was “imperative” that the parties “move without delay to engaging substantively on the shape of a final agreement”.

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