1. ITV Report

PM claims ‘basis of agreement’ exists at Stormont

Prime Minister Theresa May held talks at Stormont House on Monday. Credit: Pacemaker

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that “the basis of an agreement” to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland exists between the two main parties at Stormont.

Mrs May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled to Belfast on Monday, amid speculation that a deal was within reach.

The Prime Minister expressed confidence that a devolved executive would be “up and running very soon”, despite the stalemate between the DUP and Sinn Féin having dragged on for 13 months.

“The DUP and Sinn Fein have been working hard to close the remaining gaps,” Mrs May said.

“Some differences remain, but I think there is the basis of an agreement here and I have been urging the parties to make one final push for the people of Northern Ireland.”

The Taoiseach also held talks with politicians, but did not meet with the DUP – although Tánaiste Simon Coveney insisted that was simply down to scheduling.

Both DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said progress had been made during the ongoing talks process.

A number of issues continue to prove tricky to negotiate – including the Irish language, dealing with the past, and social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.

There was speculation over the weekend that three pieces of legislation - an Irish Language Act, an Ulster Scots Act and a broader Culture Act - could be a means to satisfy both sides.