Talks on forming new Northern Ireland government break down

Negotiations on the establishment of a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland have broken down before the deadline of 4pm on Monday.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he does not believe it will be possible to reach agreement with other parties before the deadline.

Power-sharing collapsed in January after a row over a botched green energy scheme predicted to cost taxpayers up to half a billion pounds.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and former first minister Arlene Foster was criticised over her role in the scheme, with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness resigning as deputy first minster in protest.

This led to new elections earlier this month where the republican party's support surged and it came within one seat of the biggest party at Stormont, the DUP.

Sinn Fein has said it will not share power with Mrs Foster as first minister again until a public inquiry into the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is concluded.

Talks in Belfast between the five main parties to form a new government have been taking place, chaired by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.

But Sinn Fein has now called time on the current round of negotiations.

Its leader at Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, said the republican party will not be nominating a deputy first minister on Monday.

She said: "Today we have come to the end of the road.

"The talks process has run its course and Sinn Fein will not be nominating for the position of speaker or for the executive office tomorrow."

Mr Adams said: "The DUP cannot be in there representing the DUP voters.

"They have to work with us and any other party in there representing everyone."

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "The DUP was ready to form a new administration without pre-conditions so as to allow us to have a budget and to deal with the many matters that currently face the people of Northern Ireland.

"Negotiations will only ever be successful when parties are prepared to be flexible in order to secure outcomes.

"To date there was little to suggest that Sinn Fein want to secure agreement.

"At every opportunity they have resisted involving the other parties and consequently no round table discussions were possible during this round of discussions. Any future discussions will have to built on a more solid footing."

Today is the deadline for nominating a first and deputy first minister at Stormont or else Mr Brokenshire is obliged to intervene.

Fresh elections or direct rule from Westminster could be imposed within a reasonable period.

Mr Brokenshire said: "I am determined to see a functioning executive in place at Stormont.

"I have spoken to the Prime Minister and this remains the UK government's continuing priority.

"This is the necessary first step to addressing the issues of greatest public concern - health, education and other public services in Northern Ireland.

"Even at this stage I urge political parties to agree to work to form an executive and provide people here with the strong and stable devolved government that they want."

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