British govt warns Northern Ireland to strike power-sharing deal soon or risk losing autonomy

London: British government on Wednesday warned that if parties in Northern Ireland's devolved Parliament did not strike a deal and form a government soon, the region would fall under the direct rule of London.

Northern Ireland has until Thursday to conclude negotiations and form a power-sharing government, but talks have stalled and been delayed, leading many to think that the deadline will not be met, Efe news reported.

"Our focus is on seeing that an Executive is restored and I have been clear on not wanting to pre-empt what may happen should that not be the case," Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire told lawmakers in the Parliament earlier. He warned that failing to do so would have profound and serious implications, including the possibility that the region would lose its devolved autonomy and once again come under Westminster's direct rule.

File image of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire. Getty Images

File image of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire. Getty Images

The Irish nationalist Sinn Fein accuses the DUP of opposing the introduction of laws to protect the Irish Gaelic language, to allow same-sex marriage and to protect other minorities in the region. The nationalists also refuse to share a government with the DUP while its leader, former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, is investigated for her alleged role in a corruption scandal during her time as investment minister.

For its part, the DUP accuses Sinn Fein of dramatizing the situation and has implied that it could give in to certain demands if they drop their veto on Foster.

Both parties disagree on the legacy of the conflict that rocked the region for decades and the mechanisms put in place to investigate the crimes committed by paramilitary groups and security forces alike.

Chief Unionist negotiator Edwin Poots insisted that the current priority was to form a government so that the £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) received from Britain in exchange for DUP backing could be distributed as soon as possible.

Should no deal be struck, it is possible that yet another round of talks could be organised for next Autumn.

Updated Date: Jun 29, 2017 08:37 AM

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