Sinn Féin and UUP hold talks with Secretary of State over Stormont stalemate

Chris Heaton-Harris holds talks with Sinn Féin and the UUP at Hillsborough Castle.

The Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris has held talks today with Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party over the current stalemate at Stormont. He also held talks with the DUP, SDLP and Alliance on Wednesday.

Sinn Féin’s vice president, Michelle O’Neill, has said that she did not hear any urgency from the UK government to restore Stormont during her talks with Chris Heaton-Harris.

She has called on the UK and Irish governments to do more to resolve the stalemate. The Secretary of State said they were “working very, very hard indeed”.

Michelle O’Neill spoke at Hillsborough Castle following the meeting: “Whilst people in the DUP take themselves off on summer holidays, families are left struggling; workers and families are left struggling and worried about how they are going to deal with the cost of living.”

<em>The UUPs leader Doug Beattie and deputy leader Robbie Butler<em>

The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party also had talks with the Secretary of State today. He said that his delegation had “a good conversation”.

He said he was still hopeful that devolution could be restored by the autumn but also admitted that “the timings are getting tight”.

Mr Beattie said there would be a couple of weeks in September when a decision would have to be made and insisted “that’s down to the DUP”.

<em>Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton Harris<em>

Following the talks, Chris Heaton-Harris told reporters: “Good progress has been made and I am, as ever, glass half full.”

“I think we are working very, very hard indeed and have been over the last few weeks to try and get to a better position.”

“Whilst parliament may be going into recess, this work will not be and I’d like to think we will make substantial progress in the next couple of weeks.”

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