PM urges NI parties to ‘bridge the gaps’

Prime Minister Theresa May called the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin to discuss NI's political deadlock. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Theresa May has urged the DUP and Sinn Féin to “bridge the gaps” on outstanding issues fuelling the political stalemate in Northern Ireland.

In separate telephone calls to the leadership of both parties on Friday, Mrs May expressed concern that, despite “recent progress”, an agreement had not yet been reached.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “On Northern Ireland’s finances, the Prime Minister explained how the UK Government will reluctantly be taking forward legislation for a Budget Bill on Monday.”

She added: “The Prime Minister made clear this was absolutely not an indication of direct rule, but it was necessary to enable the Northern Ireland Civil Service to allocate funds for key public services while talks between the parties continued.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that his party had urged the Prime Minister to establish an intergovernmental conference involving the Irish and British governments.

“The provision of an Irish Language Act, Marriage Equality, a Bill of Rights, and funding for legacy inquests are all British government obligations,” he said.

“However, it appears that the Tory government’s priority at this time is to sustain its political pact with the DUP.

“Consequently, it has acquiesced to the blocking of the equality agenda by the DUP and of measures that are the norm in all other parts of our islands.”

Mr Adams continued: “We told the British PM that this is unacceptable.

“If power sharing and the Good Friday Agreement are to mean anything, then these rights-based issues must be implemented.”