Britain to impose budget on Northern Ireland if no deal by November 6

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2017 5:09 AM

DUBLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will be forced to impose a budget on Northern Ireland if a new power-sharing government is not formed by the week starting Nov. 6, the minister for the region said on Wednesday.

The chances of Northern Ireland's political parties reaching an agreement are "not positive" and talks in the last few days have stalled, James Brokenshire told a parliamentary committee.

"If I had given evidence to this committee last week I might have indicated some momentum, more progress. That progress stalled at the end of last week," Brokenshire said.

"Unless there is a renewed spirit of compromise then the outlook for imminent resolution is not positive."

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved administration since its collapse in January, raising the prospect of direct rule being reimposed from London, potentially destabilizing a delicate political balance in the British province.

The main impediment in the talks between Irish nationalists Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party is disagreement over the rights of Irish language speakers.

The British and Irish governments, who are facilitating the talks, have previously expressed cautious optimism that the region's power-sharing government can be restored this month but the parties have said there are still challenges to be addressed.

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Brokenshire said if Britain has to impose a budget on Northern Ireland then it must pass legislation through Britain's parliament in the last week of October.

"We are on a glide path to greater and greater UK government intervention," Brokenshire said. "We can't go on much longer."

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison)