NIO insists restoration of devolution is Karen Bradley's 'No 1 priority'
One year after the DUP walked away from a deal to restore the Stormont executive, we examine the fallout over the past 12 months and the likelihood of the institutions being restored anytime soon...
RESTORING the Stormont institutions remains the "absolute priority" of Secretary of State Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has said.
A year after the DUP walked away from a deal that would have led to re-establishment of an executive with chief partners Sinn Féin, the NIO said Mrs Bradley continued to engage with the five main parties on a regular basis.
It is more than three months since the secretary of state convened round-table discussions involving the parties.
Waste of time
The 45-minute meeting at Stormont on November 1 was branded a "waste of time" by Sinn Féin.
It is understood the Stormont parties have not met together at Mrs Bradley's request since.
Karen Bradley 'regularly engages'
An NIO spokesman told The Irish News last night that restoring the executive remained the secretary of state's chief concern.
"Restoring the executive remains the secretary of state's absolute priority – she regularly engages with all the Northern Ireland parties at Stormont," the spokesman said.
"The aim is to encourage the parties to come together and work towards restoring devolved government at the earliest opportunity."
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Naomi Long's proposals
Alliance leader Naomi Long said her party had tabled proposals for breaking the deadlock a year ago and there was an onus on Mrs Bradley to act on them "or come forward with better ones".
"We are now over two years since the collapse of devolution – we need it functioning with a focus on resolving not just the current political disputes, but also the massive challenges facing our public services and hitting our constituents hard," the East Belfast MLA said.
"Continuing with this malaise is not sustainable."
Mrs Bradley has proposed measures in Westminster that will enable her to make public appointments, including the north's attorney general and the children's commissioner.
They are expected to be approved by MPs later this month.