Britain's May urges Northern Irish government deal by June 29

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said: "I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP can not be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements".

The institutions collapsed after the late Martin McGuinness quit as deputy first minister in protest at the DUP's handling of the ill-fated renewable heat incentive (RHI) - an eco-scheme that left Stormont facing a £490 million overspend.

They are adamant the UK Government can no longer cast itself as a neutral facilitator in the process, given Theresa May's intent to form a minority government with the help of a confidence-and-supply deal with the unionist party.

May was meeting the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, on Tuesday to discuss a deal for support in parliament, where May's Conservatives lost their majority in last week's election.

Sir John who was instrumental to end the IRA conflict in Northern Ireland spoke to BBC Radio 4's World at one programme and warned that about "hard men, lurking in the corners of the communities" saying that "that they wish to return to some sort of violence".

"The Northern Ireland Secretary will continue to engage with the parties before this crucial deadline and if no resolution is reached then we will need to consider what steps we need to take, to ensure Northern Ireland has the political stability it needs".

"We stand at a critical time with those Brexit negotiations starting only next week - I think that stability is important".

Talks with the DUP broke up on Tuesday night without an agreement, but Mrs May said the discussions had been "productive".

Before travelling to the French capital, Mrs May had been leading the talks with the DUP.

"Bringing stability to the United Kingdom government in and around issues around Brexit, obviously around counter-terrorism, and then doing what's right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters".

She said: "I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP can not be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements".

The Prime Minister did not mention the ongoing deliberations as she addressed MPs but called on Parliament to "come together in a spirit of national unity" to deal with the challenges facing the country.

  • Leroy Wright