SDLP not taking part in third day of talks on £2.5bn financial package for Stormont

The SDLP has pulled out of the final day of political talks with other parties on the £2.5billion financial package for Northern Ireland.

The party's leader at Stormont, Matthew O'Toole said it would not be right for the party to take part, given it is not entitled to a seat around the next Executive table.

The Prime Minister told DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson the package is linked to the restoration of the Executive and would run "alongside" legislation to tackle issues around the Northern Ireland protocol.

Leaders are meeting with the Secretary of State for a third time this week at Hillsborough Castle.

However, SDLP member Mathew O'Toole told UTV he wanted to let Sinn Féin and DUP take the final step to close the deal.

Matthew O'Toole said: "It wouldn't be right for us to get in the way of negotiations while others are doing that deal...

"We support them in terms of getting a financial package across the line but our job is going to be holding them account when they are back in an Executive to ensure they are delivering for the people of Northern Ireland."

Mr O'Toole said he believes there is an opportunity to get a deal over the line before Christmas, he added: "There is a deal to be done, there is the opportunity to restart devolution if Jeffrey Donaldson has the courage to lead and the other parties can get the deal over the line with the British Government in terms of financial support in terms of financial support."

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