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NIO says no immediate plan for Stormont talks

Stormont's smaller parties have called on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to resume all-party talks. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE new secretary of state will hold further discussions with parties this week before announcing any plans for a fresh round of negotiations.

Stormont's smaller parties have called for a prompt resumption of all-party talks.

Northern Ireland has been without devolved government since Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister in January last year.

As she enters her second week in the job, Secretary of State Karen Bradley is hoping for greater success than her predecessor James Brokenshire, who last year oversaw two unsuccessful rounds of negotiations.

Mrs Bradley met most of the party leaders last week and held talks with foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney in London.

She said she would use the weekend to reflect on the discussions.

The NIO last night said the secretary of state would continue to hold a series of meetings in Belfast and London.

She is also expected to carry out some engagements in Northern Ireland this week.

Leading figures in the SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance yesterday urged Mrs Bradley to resume negotiations at the earliest opportunity.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon told the BBC: "When we met with her we were very clear on the need to have inclusive talks, the need to have independence in terms of the chair and let's see what progress was made between the DUP and Sinn Féin so we can all try and build on that."

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said an April deadline coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement was too far away.

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