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Stormont drinks reception cancelled as last of the parties pull out

Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O’Neill Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O’Neill
By Staff Reporter

THE Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has cancelled a drinks reception for MLAs at Stormont after all political parties declined the invitation.
The invitation issued by Secretary of State Karen Bradley stated it was a chance for “informal” talks. Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O’Neill immediately said they wouldn’t be turning up, while the other parties fell away over the weekend, culminating in the decision yesterday to cancel today’s event.
The SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance Party said they would not be attending the event, while the DUP described the summer drinks party as “unhelpful”.
Mrs Bradley had “considered that it would be valuable to bring together MLAs” for an informal event alongside the political talks at Stormont, added the spokesperson. “This was part of the drive to make the process more inclusive, beyond those who sit around the talks table and to help build relationships ahead of the restoration of the assembly.”
The latest round of talks to restore the Stormont Executive began on May 7 and was announced after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee on Good Friday.
The UK and Irish governments have said there remains a small window of opportunity to restore devolution but the talks so far have not produced anything substantial.
There has been speculation the talks could be paused over the summer months but the NIO has said that is not true.

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