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  1. ITV Report

Northern Ireland parties meet with PM over DUP deal

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Adams pictured after meeting Theresa May. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister has met with all five Northern Ireland parties to reassure them that the arrangement she’s seeking with the DUP to keep her in power will not impact talks to restore devolution.

Northern Ireland politicians have not enjoyed as much attention from a Prime Minister for some time.

Earlier in the week Theresa May had met with the DUP leader Arlene Foster in Downing Street to discuss the terms of a deal which will keep a Conservative government in power.

On Thursday she met with the other parties to reassure them that that arrangement will not impact on the government's role in the talks to restore government here.

First in was the Alliance, but leader Naomi Long didn't sound too reassured when she came out.

“She sought to give us her reassurance on the issue of neutrality but we have to be practical about these things. In reality the government is here simply because the DUP allow it to be so,” she said.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long with colleague David Ford. Credit: PA

Next in, the Ulster Unionists and leader Robin Swann voiced concerns that the whole deal should be made public.

He said: “We are concerned that any deal reached is open and transparent and that everybody gets to see the entire negotiation, we are well aware coming from the Northern Ireland political situation of the side deals that have been done in previous agreements.”

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann called for any deal to be open and transparent. Credit: PA

The SDLP are also sceptical, with leader Colum Eastwood commenting: “We’ve had a positive, constructive meeting with the Prime Minister but we have to be honest, it will take much more for us to be convinced that the DUP tail is not wagging the Tory dog.

“We want to see any deal between those two parties reflect the wishes of all the people of Northern Ireland not just one section of the community.”

Of course if the devolution talks are to be successful Sinn Féin must agree.

The SDLP delegation at No 10. Credit: PA

Party president Gerry Adams who is no stranger to meetings in Downing Street ahead of the Good Friday Agreement told Mrs May she's now in breach of it.

“We told her very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday Agreement and we itemised those matters in which she was in default in relation to that Agreement.

The party’s northern leader Michelle O'Neill commented: “Any deal between herself and the DUP cannot undermine the GFA it cannot undermine the joint nature of the office [of first and deputy first minister]. The British government have a responsibility to make sure they continue their role as the co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.”

It is not clear how much closer the DUP is to agreeing a deal with Theresa May.

It has been announced that the Queen's Speech - the centrepiece of the State Opening of Parliament - will take place on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of the DUP's meeting in Downing Street, the party's Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds would not be drawn on whether they'll reach an agreement with the Conservatives before next week.

He commented: “I’m not going to get into timetables or deadlines, I think we’ve found previously in Northern Ireland in relation to deadlines that they can be somewhat counterproductive. There is no deadline as such.”

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