Stormont stalemate: Coveney hopes for progress ‘in weeks’ | All Charts News - breaking news english

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Simon CoveneyImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Simon Coveney was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

The Irish and British governments will do some “heavy lifting” to ensure talks to restore Stormont power-sharing make progress in “weeks, not months”, the Irish deputy prime minister has said.

Fresh talks aimed at breaking more than two years of political deadlock began on Tuesday.

They were called by the British and Irish governments after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Simon Coveney said he felt there had already been more than “some movement”.

“When positive things happen it’s important to recognise them,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said he felt there was an acceptance from all the Stormont parties that they had an obligation to break the impasse.

Mr Coveney’s comments came as a spokesperson confirmed that the prime minister will speak to Sinn Féin in the coming days about the efforts to restore devolution.

Mrs May discussed the talks with the DUP on Thursday.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017, after the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row.

Mr Coveney and the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, led talks on Tuesday and laid out details of how the process will work over the coming weeks.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The talks were called following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee last month

The main party leaders will hold a round-table meeting at least weekly, alongside five working groups set up specifically to deal with outstanding issues.

The last substantive talks collapsed in February 2018, when it looked like the two parties were close to an agreement.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Irish prime minister) and Prime Minister Theresa May have said they will review progress on the fresh talks at the end of May.