Agreement reached in Stormont all-party talks

Agreement reached in Stormont all-party talks

TALKS between the main political parties in Stormont have finally reached an agreement. 

Following 11 weeks of discussion between the five parties and the Irish and British Governments, a deal was finally struck as negotiations continued into the night at Stormont House.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and the Secretary of State lead the discussions with the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the UUP and Alliance.

On Friday, the parties reached what Minister Flanagan called a “significant breakthrough”, when they agreed on a common position for the handling of public finances, for the first time.

But contentious issues still up for discussion include the enduring flag issues, parades and how to address the legacy of the past.

In addition, negotiations focused on the structures and governance arrangements at Stormont.

The talks also crucially outlined the terms of a new £2billion financial package proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, said: "Today we are building on the hard-won peace on this island with a new agreement which aims to further reconciliation and foster economic growth."

Mr Flanagan added the agreement "will help to ensure that the huge potential in the Good Friday Agreement is realised."

The North's First Minister, and DUP leader, Peter Robinson said that discussions would still need to take place over a number of issues.

"Of course every one of us would have liked to have had a more comprehensive and complete agreement but this is as much and more than we have ever been able to do on these issues in the past," he said.

"So it is a very significant agreement."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams indicated on Twitter that his parties negotiating team will be recommending the proposals to the parties Árd Chomhairle.

He added that the progress made today must continue in the New Year.

Talks have been on-going since British Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Stormont earlier this month, in an effort to break a political deadlock in the North.

The parties left Belfast without an agreement being reached.

This is the first set of negotiations in the North, which has been co-chaired by Cameron and Kenny.