Northern Ireland news

Arlene Foster says no return to devolution in the 'coming weeks or months'

Arlene Foster wants more powers for the devolved administrations after Brexit. Picture by Valerie O'Sullivan/PA Wire

ARLENE Foster has signalled that devolution in Northern Ireland is unlikely to be restored for the foreseeable future.

The DUP leader yesterday told the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in London that she saw "little prospect" of a Stormont executive being formed "in the coming weeks or months".

The former first minister said her party wanted devolution but that its focus was on "having decisions made through Westminster".

Her remarks come after former DUP Stormont minister Simon Hamilton said on Wednesday that devolved government would not be reinstated "this year and perhaps even beyond".

Mrs Foster said she did not want to see a hard border after Brexit but rather a "optimistic, sensible and pragmatic approach" to the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

"I object in the strongest terms to people who have limited experience of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, throwing threats of violence around as some kind of bargaining chip in this negotiating process," she said.

"To do so is an insult to the people of Northern Ireland who worked so hard to bring peace."

The DUP leader said she hoped Brexit would mean more powers for the devolved administrations.

"More flexibility for locally elected ministers to set policies that work for our regions and the ability to pursue ambitious new free trade agreements around the world," she said.

"But we also want to be able to continue to trade as freely with the EU as possible – we want to avoid a cliff edge for businesses by having a strictly time limited implementation period."

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