May in talks with Northern Irish parties over DUP deal

The Prime Minister will hold separate talks at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon with the leaders of Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party to dispel their fears that the anticipated parliamentary deal between the Tories and the DUP will undermine the peace process.

Sinn Fein, SDLP and the cross-community Alliance have all also already made clear that Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire can not chair the ongoing process to restore power-sharing at Stormont due to a perceived conflict of interest caused by the deal.

Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds is leading the DUP delegation to London as party leader Arlene Foster has returned to Northern Ireland, the spokesman said.

"I will be in London and Dublin over the coming days for talks with both Theresa May and the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar", Ms O'Neill said in a statement.

The announcement by Andrea Leadsom suggests that Prime Minister Theresa May and the Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party have struck an agreement or are close to one.

"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".

She added: "Progress will not come from a deal between the DUP and Tories to prop up a Government in Westminster with an austerity and Brexit agenda".

It has always been speculated that such an agreement would leave the government in breach of its duties under the Northern Irish power sharing arrangement, signed on Good Friday in 1998.

With her tally of Conservative MPs slashed to 317 in last week's poll, Mrs May needs the backing of the DUP's 10 members to reach the 320 required for a working majority in the Commons.

Ministers have already said that the Queen of England's speech may have to be set back from its scheduled date of next Monday June 19, because of the ongoing negotiations.

  • Leroy Wright