DUP leader Arlene Foster says there is “no current prospect” of a deal to restore the power-sharing Executive at Stormont.
In response, last night Sinn Féin’s leader in the north Michelle O’Neill said a deal had been reached and the DUP had collapsed the process.
“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP, the DUP failed to close the deal,” she said, calling on the party to reflect on its position.
On Monday, Mrs Foster had said that there was “very good progress” in the talks. However, on Wednesday afternoon she said that talks were “unsuccessful” and that “significant gaps” remain.
The former First Minister has now called on the British government to set a budget for the north and to make policy decisions.
“In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed,” she said. “It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Important decisions impacting on everyone in Northern Ireland have been sitting in limbo for too long.
“I had dearly hoped that we could have restored an Executive and local Ministers could have taken those decisions. That is not possible at this time. Northern Ireland is best governed by local Ministers who are accountable to local people.”
Sinn Féin Vice-President Michelle O’Neill said that the DUP “collapsed this process” and the party to “reflect on their position”.
"Sinn Féin over the past 13 months worked to restore the institutions on the basis of respect, integrity and equality for all sections of society,” she said.
“When this latest round of talks was announced in January, I said a short, sharp and focused negotiation was required to resolve the outstanding issues of rights and equality available everywhere else in the islands.
“Sinn Féin engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves.
“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP.
"The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process. These issues are not going away.
“Sinn Féin are now in contact with both governments and we will set out our considered position tomorrow.
“The DUP should reflect on their position.”