In Brief

Northern Ireland in last-minute talks for power-sharing deal

Sinn Fein hint at accepting Foster as first minister if DUP 'gave grounds on other matters'

Urgent talks are underway at Stormont on a power-sharing deal that would allow Northern Ireland to appoint a new executive and resume governing.

Politicians have until Thursday afternoon to come to an arrangement or face the possibility of direct rule from Westminster for the fifth time since 2000. The province has been with a government since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January.

However, the parties were reportedly "deadlocked" on issues including a standalone Irish language act and the leadership of the new assembly.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) argue that provisions for Ulster Scots and Orange Identity should also be part of any new legislation, RTE reports. 

In addition, former first minister Arlene Foster’s leadership of the party is under fire over her championing a controversial renewable heating scheme expected to cost £1bn over the next 20 years.

Nevertheless, Sinn Fein hinted on Tuesday it might back down on Foster returning to head the government if the DUP "gave grounds on other matters", News Letter reports.

Adding to the problem is the DUP's agreement with Theresa May that will give Northern Ireland  £1bn in extra funding in exchange for the party backing Tory legislation on Brexit, security and budgets.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams told The Independent the deal "provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement", complicating the Stormont talks. 

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