Northern Ireland news

Arlene Foster says Stormont negotiations are 'serious'

Arlene Foster said the negotiations to restore devolution were 'serious'

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the current negotiations to restore the Stormont institutions are "serious".

The latest talks process convened by the two governments after nearly two-and-a-half years without devolution is now entering its eleventh week.

Responding to suggestions that the SDLP, Alliance and Ulster Unionists were being excluded from the negotiations while the DUP and Sinn Féin focused on bilateral meetings, the former first minster said Stormont's two biggest parties had the most significant "gaps to resolve".

Speaking from the Open golf championship at Portrush, the DUP leader told the BBC she wanted a future executive to be made up of the five main parties.

She also revealed that she had spoken to Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill about the amendment to Westminster legislation which could lead to the liberalisation of the north's abortion laws if devolution is not restored by October 21.

Mrs Foster was among politicians who signed a letter to the British prime minister calling for the decision on abortion to be reversed.

She described it as the most "insidious" clause in the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.

She said abortion should remain a devolved matter and claimed that a majority of people in Northern Ireland would not support a change in the law that would bring the region into line with Britain.

"I don't believe there is any support at all to go to a situation where you would have abortion up to 28 weeks," she said.

Mrs Foster again stressed that the confidence and supply deal struck more than two years ago would be unaffected by the the Tories' change of leadership.

The deal agreed in the aftermath of the 2017 general election is due for review over the coming weeks.

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