1. ITV Report

Stormont power-sharing talks: Executive could be formed as early as this week

An executive could be formed as early as this week to re-establish a power-sharing agreement at Stormont, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said.

James Brokenshire told MPs "some progress" has been made on some of the "most challenging issues", but he added that "gaps remain between the parties on a defined number of issues".

A series of deadlines have been missed to restore multi-party devolved government in the country.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Brokenshire said: "I continue to believe that a deal remains achievable and if agreement is reached I will bring forward legislation to enable an executive to be formed possibly as early as this week."

However Mr Brokenshire warned that if no agreement is reached, legislation in Westminster may then be required to give authority for expenditure in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's devolved institutions imploded in January. Credit: AP

The devolved institutions imploded in January when DUP leader Arlene Foster was forced from office after Sinn Fein's then deputy first minister, the late Martin McGuinness, quit.

That was in protest at the DUP's handling of the renewable heat incentive (RHI), a scheme that left the administration facing a £490 million overspend.

One of the main current sticking points is over Sinn Fein's call for an act officially protecting the Irish language.

The DUP is prepared to legislate, but only if there are reciprocal protections for Ulster-Scots speakers.