Northern Ireland news

UUP joins fresh push for talks to restore Stormont power-sharing following murder of Lyra McKee

UUP leader Robin Swann said he had written to the British Prime Minister 'asking her to intervene and restore all party talks'. Picture by PA Wire

THE Ulster Unionist Party have joined the fresh push for talks to restore Stormont power-sharing following the murder of Lyra McKee.

UUP leader Robin Swann last night said he had written to the British Prime Minister Theresa May "asking her to intervene and restore all party talks".

It came after SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that he wanted to see that "talks are convened this week in order to finally restore government in Northern Ireland".

He said he was writing to all party leaders, Mrs May and taoiseach Leo Varadkar following the death of Ms McKee on Thursday.

In a statement last night, Mr Swann said he was "fully supportive" of the call by Mr Eastwood for the commencement of political talks.

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He also said following the meeting of the UUP Executive at the weekend, he had written to Mrs May asking her to intervene.

"We can't allow either local government or European election campaigns to stall the process any further and any party who wishes to exclude themselves shouldn't be allowed to hold the rest of us back," he said.

The UUP also said it was postponing its planned manifesto launch tomorrow due to a clash with the funeral of Ms McKee in Belfast. The party said it would be "rescheduled for a later date".

It came as the Republic's Labour Party leader, Brendan Howlin has also called on Mr Varadkar to initiate new inter-party discussions in Northern Ireland.

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He said the "only enduring and ultimately worthwhile response to the murder of Lyra McKee would be the restoration of the Good Friday institutions".

"While undoubtedly the cross party horror at Lyra's death is genuine, it seems clear that fresh agency will be required to generate the only enduring response - the restoration of the Good Friday institutions," he said.

"As joint guarantors of the agreement, the people responsible for generating that agency are the two governments.

"Due to the complete lack of leadership from Sinn Féin and the DUP, I am calling on both Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney to make immediate contact with the British government with the sole purpose of bringing the parties together.

"Given the mutual horror displayed by the DUP and Sinn Féin leadership at Lyra's tragic death this does not necessarily require an intermediary, but let us be clear that if the governments believe that necessary or helpful to any talks it should be sourced.

"The first step now is clear.

"It is for the governments to act by bringing the parties together.

"Then it is the responsibility of the parties to end the political vacuum in Northern Ireland which is the source of ongoing problems."

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