DUP blames Theresa May's Northern Ireland visit for the collapse in power-sharing talks

Charles McQuillan/PA Wire/PA ImagesArlene Foster and Theresa May
  • DUP and Sinn Fein fail to find a breakthrough in talks to form a government.
  • Theresa May’s visit to Northern Ireland was a “distraction” and did not help talks, the DUP said.
  • Northern Ireland has been without an executive for 13 months.
  • The DUP agreed to prop up Theresa May’s UK government after the Conservative party failed to win a majority in last year’s general election.

LONDON – DUP leader Arlene Foster has blamed Theresa May’s recent visit to Northern Ireland as one of the reasons for talks on forming a government in Belfast breaking down.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have this week been locked in negotiations in an attempt to form a government in Northern Ireland after over a year of stalemate.

However, Foster announced on Wednesday that talks had not produced a workable agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

“In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed,” Foster said, adding that “significant gaps” remained between the two parties.>

The DUP’s Simon Hamilton later told journalists that Prime Minister May’s visit to Northern Ireland this week was against the advice of the DUP and prevented the two sides from making sufficient progress in talks.

“In our view [May’s visit] acted as a distraction. We were unable to build on the progress we had made last week,” he said.

He added: “I think that the visit of the prime minister and the Taoiseach [Leo Varadkar] acted as a bit of a distraction at the beginning of the week. I don’t think it was entirely helpful in getting us to a successful conclusion.”

May and Irish Taoiseach Varadkar visited Northern Ireland this week to urge politicians there to make the “final push” towards a breakthrough in talks.

The prime minister said it was “at the point where it’s time for local elected representatives to find a way to work together.”

However, talks broke down on Wednesday, with one of the key areas of disagreement being the Irish language. Sinn Fein wants the Irish language to be given an official status in Northern Ireland.

Foster has called on the UK government to take direct rule of Northern Ireland, which means the May-led government would be responsible for setting the devolved region’s budget and making policy decisions on its behalf.

Here is Foster’s statement:

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