Political news

Gregory Campbell: New round of talks to begin 'within days'

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has claimed fresh political talks will begin within days. Picture by Mark Marlow, Pacemaker

A START date for a new round of political talks aimed at restoring power-sharing will be set within days, a DUP MP has claimed.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell also said he expects the negotiations to resume "within the next 10 days".

However, Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd said in response last night that "another round of talks for talks' sake have no political or public credibility".

Discussions between the DUP and Sinn Féin ended in October amid an impasse over issues including a standalone Irish language act.

They were the latest round of failed talks since power-sharing collapsed in January.

Mr Campbell told BBC Radio Foyle yesterday that some differences between the parties had been partly resolved.

"It will be the case that there will be more talks," he said.

"Hopefully they will be more productive than they have been recently and gaps have been narrowed.

"The date will be arranged in the next few days and then I would have thought the talks will certainly occur within the next 10 days."

Responding to the comments, Mr O'Dowd said the focus should be on implementing previous agreements.

"After the last phase of talks failed Sinn Féin met with both the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister to make clear that it is now their responsibility to bring forward proposals for meaningful talks which have agreement as an objective and can reach a successful conclusion," he said.

"Another round of talks for talks' sake have no political or public credibility.

"The focus must therefore be on the implementation of previous agreements and the delivery of a rights-based society rather than venue or process which will not resolve these fundamental difficulties."

SDLP North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said her party had not been informed by Secretary of State James Brokenshire about any resumption of talks.

"The SDLP has made its position clear, the interests of the people of Northern Ireland are best served through local accountable governance," she said.

"We will not accept British direct rule.

"None of the issues causing the current political deadlock are insurmountable. If the political will exists, progress can be made.

"What is now needed is an independent chair, as Mr Brokenshire can no longer be viewed as an impartial broker given his government's cosy deal with the DUP."

She added that any new talks need to include all parties.

"The way forward lies in inclusive talks with all parties putting their cards on the table," she said.

"We need to see the ‘progress' that the DUP and Sinn Fein have made - if any, over the past number of months. They must come clean with the public and publish the details on their private talks over the past year."

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