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Varadkar: Talks to restore power sharing could resume in autumn

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

TALKS aimed at restoring devolution could take place in the autumn, the taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar said the Irish and British governments hoped to meet the north's main political parties.

The executive at Stormont collapsed 18 months ago and repeated rounds of negotiations have failed to broker agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Mr Varadkar linked the prospect of success in talks between the parties and the British and Irish governments to progress on Brexit.

"We would intend, in the autumn some time, trying again to get the parties in Northern Ireland together," he said.

The Taoiseach also told a media briefing in Dublin: "I think the absence of any clarity around Brexit makes that very difficult but if we can have that in October, I think there is an opportunity, certainly before the end of the year, to get the assembly and executive up and running."

Stormont crashed in January 2017 amid a row about the botched Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. Discussions later widened to take in issues including the Irish language, LGBT rights and the legacy of the Troubles.

The last bid to restore the troubled institutions failed in February when the DUP pulled the plug.

Sinn Féin insisted a draft deal had been signed off with the DUP at that point, and accused the party of getting cold feet in the face of an internal revolt from grassroots members angry about potential concessions in the dispute over the Irish language.

The DUP denied the claim, insisting it exchanged numerous papers with Sinn Fein during the negotiation process but none amounted to a draft agreement.

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