THE IRISH and British governments will outline new plans today to restore power-sharing at Stormont.
A new phase of fresh talks will begin next week to get the Northern Ireland Executive up and running.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley met for the first time in London last week, and they will reunite in Stormont today to attend a joint a news conference.
Its been one year since the power-sharing administration collapsed in Northern Ireland, with a political stalemate setting in between Sinn Fein and the DUP.
Having been the two key players in power-sharing for over a decade, the bust-up between the DUP and Sinn Fein brought down the devolved government last January.
Some sources suggest the timing of the talks comes as a ‘last opportunity’ to reach an agreement, with other options coming into consideration.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said in the case of no agreement, there are two options open.
“There first option is another set of elections, which is an option, although it’s hard to see what outcome would raise from that would put us in a better position. The second option is convening the British-Irish Governmental Conference, which would allow the two governments to implement the Good Friday Agreement in the absence of an assembly and executive in Northern Ireland,” he said.
Talks between the two main political parties in the North have been mired in difficulties over the last year, with deadlines being set by the former Northern Ireland Secretary, James Brokenshire, only for them to be missed.
It’s understood the restoration of power hinges on three issues – the access to marriage equality for LGBT couples, an Irish language act, and a bill of rights.
The success of the new initiative from the two governments will depend on how the two larger parties behave. If they can resolve their differences, Stormont will re-open.
According to RTE News, a UK government source insisted that Karen Bradley was not considering any other outcome other than the restoration of devolution.
However, if they cannot, some form of direct rule, with a limited consultative role for the Government, will become inevitable.