Progress made on forming new Executive but no deal

In from the Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald

“Today Michelle O’Neill, our party chair Declan Kearney and I had the opportunity to meet with both An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and with British Prime Minister Theresa May and we gave them our assessment of the talks so far.

“We believe an agreement is possible, an agreement is desirable.

“Sinn Féin want the institutions back up and running and we have said very clearly that at this juncture what is required is political will to make that happen.

“We have entered into a decisive phase of the process, this is the week for decision time. We don’t believe that there is anything now insurmountable left to resolve.

The Sinn Féin President said too that the party delegation raised a number of other key issues with the governments including Brexit, legacy and funding for victims of institutional abuse.

“We took the opportunity to speak to both governments on a number of key issues including the issue of Brexit and the fact that any attempt to coerce the north out of the single market and customs union will be to our mind disastrous and reckless.

“We argued and pressed again the case for what we refer to as special status. The livelihoods of the people of the north need to be protected, the economy must be protected, the social and the political fabric of the north of Ireland and indeed the island of Ireland as a whole must be protected.

“We raised the issue of compensation for victims of institutional abuse, the implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House and the release of the funding requested by the Lord Chief Justice for legacy inquests.

“Today is the anniversary of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane and we raised again with both governments the necessity for a full public inquiry into his death and called for the publication of the Crowley Report in respect of Aidan McAnespie whose anniversary occurred at this time also.

“We made it clear that Sinn Féin will continue to support the Finucane and McAnespie families in their pursuit of truth and justice.

Meanwhile the DUP Leader, Arlene Foster also said progress had been made but some issues were still outstanding;

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs