London gives N Ireland more time for power-sharing deal

London gives N Ireland more time for power-sharing deal

Northern Ireland parties have "short window of opportunity" to avoid suspension of self-rule despite expired deadline.


The British government has given Northern Ireland's largest political parties extra time to form a power-sharing regional government, after a deadline to resolve their differences expired.
The extension on Monday staved off the risk of a suspension of devolved power for the first time in a decade.
James Brokenshire, Northern Ireland secretary of the United Kingdom, said the failure of the talks was "extremely disappointing", but he saw a "short window of opportunity" of several weeks for more talks.
"I think there are a few short weeks in which to resolve matters," Brokenshire said shortly after the three-week deadline expired at 15:00 GMT. He did not explain on what basis more time would be given.
While the law obliges him to call new elections, which would be the third in 12 months, it also gives him some leeway on when exactly to hold them.
Brokenshire said there was no appetite for a return to direct rule from London, a move which would require the law to be changed, but which some feel could prove unavoidable if repeated elections fail to bring the parties together.
"I believe there is an overwhelming desire among the political parties and the public here for strong and stable devolved government," he said.
Brokenshire said Belfast civil servants will assume essential government responsibilities this week, but the government limbo cannot continue indefinitely.

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