Northern Ireland politicians urged to back new deal to restore devolved parliament

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-10 19:52:12|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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LONDON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Politicians in Northern Ireland were called to a crunch meeting Friday in a new bid to restore the country's devolved parliament, three years after its suspension.

A deal to end an impasse that saw the collapse of the power-sharing assembly exactly three years ago was published late Thursday night.

The 62-page document was put forward jointly by the British and Irish governments, spelling out a future formula for the Stormont parliament to reopen following a major fall-out between the two biggest political parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the pro-republican Sinn Fein.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, in her initial response, said the deal was not perfect, but was the basis upon which the assembly and executive can be re-established in a fair and balanced way.

Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Fein, said in a statement that her party was studying the text and would assess the proposed deal on Friday.

Squabbling politicians in Northern Ireland had been given until Jan. 13 to re-open the assembly or face the prospect of new elections.

If the deal wins support of assembly members on Friday, it will see the immediate full restoration of the institutions of the Belfast Agreement, including the power-sharing executive, the full assembly and the North/South Ministerial Council.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith has written to assembly speaker Robin Newton, asking him to call the assembly on Friday to enable the restoration of the executive.

"I urge the parties to come together and to form an executive in the best interests of Northern Ireland," said Smith.

"This is a moment of truth for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It is a fair and balanced deal that will ensure key decisions about peoples' lives can be made," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said now is the time "for political leadership and a collective commitment to making politics work for people."

"There is no need, and no public patience, for more process and more discussions," Coveney said.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland, and has power to legislate in areas that are not explicitly reserved to the British parliament. It also has the power to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive.