Brokenshire to meet with parties to kickstart talks process

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

Secretary of State James Brokeshire is to meet with the five main political parties today as efforts to kickstart a fresh talks process get underway.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is expected is to visit Northern Ireland on Tuesday of this week with the Irish government keen to be seen to be taking a more proactive approach to this latest round of talks.

Mr Brokenshire will meet the DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, UUP and Alliance separately at Stormont House on Monday to see if there is any prospect of talks resuming.

However, Sinn Féin's rapid rejection of the DUP's proposals to break the deadlock means the possibility of an executive in the near or medium term is now highly unlikely and Mr Brokenshire and Mr Coveney are also expected to discuss what the options are if devolution is not restored.

Among the possible options are another snap election, direct rule or a change in legislation to allow for the formation of a voluntary coalition government.

There has also been some suggestion of the introduction of a form of the Supra council, were the assembly would partially function but with no powers to initiate primary legislation, which would remain with Westminster.

With both the DUP and Sinn Féin sounding increasingly pessimistic about a return to Stormont some insiders have suggested the talks may be shelved before they even get down to the main outstanding issues.

Writing in the Irish News today SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that if Gerry Adam's strategy is to let the institutions fall indefinitely and "let Brexit unleash its wreckage" then "he needs to wise up".

"The status quo of the last ten years wasn't just about a lack of respect - it was a status quo of a largely useless government", he said..

"Given that it was the first time our community has held sustained power here since partition, nationalism in particular needs to reflect on that".

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