UK, Irish governments set for talks with Sinn Fein

Secretary of State Karen Bradley speaks to the media

Secretary of State Karen Bradley speaks to the media

Labour's shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith has said that Theresa May should force the devolved government to accept same-sex marriage if power-sharing talks fail.

With the collapse of talks seeking to restore the devolved Northern Ireland Government, the Ancient Order of Hibernians has expressed its concern over the future of U.S. -brokered Good Friday Agreement, and has renewed calls for the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland peace and political process.

"In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an executive being formed".

The long-running talks have also been complicated by the fact that British Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government depends on the support of the DUP to pass legislation in London.

The prospect of direct rule being re-introduced could also trigger a diplomatic dispute over what role the Irish government should have in the region.

The Northern Ireland Assembly was dissolved more than a year ago after an initial row between the parties over an energy scheme.

She said that Sinn Féin's "insistence on a stand-alone Irish language act means that we have reached an impasse". "At the moment, we do not have a fair and balanced package".

DUP leader Arlene Foster has dismissed any suggestion of a standalone Irish language law emerging from Stormont's power-sharing negotiations.

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But it has to be in a form that is seen to be fair to the different culture and traditions in Northern Ireland.

It has been suggested the DUP even advised Mrs May not to visit Belfast on Monday, ahead of her trip.

Sinn Fein are pushing for legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers locally but the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) argue it would give Irish speakers special treatment.

I'm sure the Prime Minister's visit will have been helpful but this is a very, very hard set of circumstances and this is a very sensitive issue.

The absence of an executive has limited Belfast's say in Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union, which are set to have a bigger impact on Northern Ireland than on any other part of the United Kingdom.

Sinn Fein is now expected to outline the party's next move after the collapse of talks.

She added challenging decisions will now need to be taken in London.

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