James Brokenshire in Belfast in last ditch attempt to restore Stormont government

Niall O Donnghaile

Niall O Donnghaile

"And I believe that cultural security and confidence are vital to this new, more positive chapter in our history", Foster said. I have also heard from those within the Unionist community who hear others speaking about respect whilst at the same time they engage in a campaign to denigrate and demonise any and all aspects of our British identity in Northern Ireland or insult the Ulster Scots community.

Both Ministers are trying to establish whether there is any point in moving to full formal talks to restore Stormont or whether the current level of deadlock means there is no room for compromise and that some form of direct rule from Westminster will become inevitable.

"The issue of a parallel process has been discussed and rejected throughout the course of all the negotiations we have had to date", Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland, said in a statement.

She warned there were small windows over the next two months to make progress.

Sinn Féin is pushing for a stand-alone Irish Language Act, something the DUP has resisted.

Mrs Foster said by October the Northern Ireland Secretary would have to pass a law authorising the expenditure of public money, adding: "If there is no devolution by that stage and no signal of devolution I think that he would have to take action in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland".

"So in essence it was making an offer, which the DUP knew would be rejected", O'Neill said.

"If we are to have an agreement then there will need to be a willingness on all sides to reach out in order to secure a durable outcome", she said.

In a speech, DUP leader Arlene Foster called for the immediate return of devolved government and time-limited legislation to deal with culture and language issues.

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