- The UK government moves towards imposing direct rule on Northern Ireland.
- Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the government may have “no other choice” but to take control of finances in the province.
- Sinn Fein have ruled out supporting any element of direct rule.
- Move comes after talks over restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland broke down.
LONDON – The UK government today moved towards imposing direct rule over Northern Ireland after talks to restore devolved government in the province broke down.
The UK Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs in the Houses of Parliament that the government would take “whatever steps are necessary,” including setting the budget for the province.
“There needs to be certainty and clarity about a budget for Northern Ireland for next year as soon as possible,” she said.
“And I intend to take steps to provide clarity on the budget and I will update the House as soon as I am in a position to do so.”
She added that while this was “clearly not where I want to be,” she “will have no other choice” to do so following the breakdown of talks.
“A number of challenging decisions will have to be taken,” she said.
“Ultimately the government has a responsibility to ensure good governance and the continued delivery of public services.”
Bradley said the UK government would only impose direct control of Northern Ireland finances once “all other viable options” had been exhausted.
Direct rule was last imposed on the province between 2002 and 2007 and was brought to an end following a power-sharing deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
The DUP has called for the return of direct rule to the province. However, Sinn Fein and the Irish government have ruled out supporting its return.
“Direct rule is not acceptable. Direct rule is not on the table,” Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said this week.
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