Northern Ireland

Stormont talks: 'Incontrovertible proof' of draft deal

Arlene Foster Image copyright PA
Image caption Arlene Foster has been the leader of the DUP since December 2015

A journalist has published "incontrovertible proof" that the Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster gave her Sinn Féin counterpart a hard copy of a draft agreement text.

Eamonn Mallie has produced "an email chain" between a DUP adviser and the head of Michelle O'Neill's office.

The parties disagree on whether a draft deal existed before talks collapsed.

The DUP deputy leader said he had no knowledge of Mrs Foster giving Mrs O'Neill a draft on 9 February.

Asked on BBC NI's The View on Thursday if Mrs Foster had given the 13-page document to Mrs O'Neill, Nigel Dodds said "that's news to me".

"I would be highly surprised if that happened," he added.

But in an email timed at 19.52 GMT on 9 February published on Mr Mallie's website, the DUP's Philip Weir tells Sinn Féin's Stephen McGlade "attached is latest overall text we have".

"I told Conor (Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy) would send u through.

"Arlene gave Michelle hard copy earlier but have been a couple of small tweaks since then to copy she had."

'Rejected it'

On Friday, DUP MP Sammy Wilson told BBC's Inside Politics show: "Any agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin would not have been done by our negotiators.

"The negotiators are not the people who make the deal, the people who make the deal are the party as a whole, and the party as a whole rejected it."

However, a DUP spokesman said: "The talks collapsed without agreement because there wasn't a fair and balanced deal.

"The DUP stands ready to form an executive without any preconditions. That's our preferred outcome.

"However, we are now focused on delivering a budget for schools, roads and hospitals through Westminster and ensuring there is a sensible Brexit."

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