Northern Ireland

Stormont talks: 'Substantive' disagreements remain

Simon Coveney and Karen Bradley Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and NI Secretary Karen Bradley have been urging parties to reach a deal

"Real and substantive" areas of disagreement remain between the Stormont parties, Downing Street has said.

Talks to try and break the political impasse have been ongoing since 7 May.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Theresa May said that parties have engaged constructively so far.

It is understood the British and Irish governments could make a judgement call on Wednesday about whether to pause the talks over the summer.

On Sunday, Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill argued that the talks should not be suspended.

DUP leader Arlene Foster later tweeted that Sinn Féin "expect everyone else to accede" to their demands.

On Monday, the Northern Ireland Office cancelled a drinks reception for MLAs at Stormont after political parties refused to attend.

Party leaders are due to meet for another round-table talks session with the Secretary of State Karen Bradley and the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Wednesday.

No devolved government

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017, after a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Féin led to the collapse of the institutions.

Several rounds of talks since then have failed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Attention has again turned to Stormont, where talks are taking place in a push to restore the political institutions

The latest round of negotiations to restore Stormont were announced after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderrry in April.

However, there are several sticking points preventing the parties from reaching an agreement.

The UK and Irish governments have said there remains a small window of opportunity to restore devolution but the talks so far have not produced anything.

There has been speculation the talks could be paused over the summer, but the Northern Ireland Office has said that is not true.

More on this story