Restore devolution or face return of direct rule, Foster tells Sinn Fein

Restore devolution or face return of direct rule, Foster tells Sinn Fein

The deadline to reach a new power-sharing agreement was extended to June 29th after Mrs May called the snap general election in April.

Although Sinn Fein has made clear it will not drop its abstentionist policy regardless of the final shake down in parliament, the DUP has indicated its willingness to talk with the Conservatives if they require support to form a government.

The Agreement promised “rigorous impartiality” from the United Kingdom government over any disputes in Northern Ireland, which critics say would become impossible if the DUP joined forces with Theresa May.

Beaten candidate Mark Durkan apologised to Mr Hume in an emotional speech but insisted the party still had a future.

The DUP seized the last SDLP stronghold in South Belfast, wrested back South Antrim from the UUP and saw off the challenge of the Alliance Party and Sinn Fein in East and North Belfast respectively. However, because they want a united Ireland and don’t believe in rule from Westminster, Sinn Fein don’t physically take up its seats.

Although the DUP backed Brexit, its leader Arlene Foster has spoken against a “hard Brexit” and against a hard border with the Republic of Ireland where people and goods would be subject to checkpoints.

The prospect of no clear victor emerging from Britain’s election is “perfect territory” for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and they would be willing to negotiate with Mrs Theresa May’s Conservatives, a senior MP said on Thursday.

“I do think there is an opportunity to soften Brexit”.

If Sinn Fein, as expected, at least retains the four seats it won in 2015, the winning party would need 324 seats for a majority, rather than 326.

The Minister for Social Protection, who is to be elected Taoiseach on Wednesday, said he would emphasise this point when he had an opportunity to speak to Theresa May.

The shock emergence of a “hung parliament” in the United Kingdom has dominated headlines today, with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party gaining more than 30 seats, at the expense of the Tories and the Scottish National Party (SNP).

He credited Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with fighting a good campaign despite “media bias”.

Speaking about her party’s results, Ms Foster observed: “I am upbeat”.