BELFAST – Talks to restart Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government broke down yet again on Wednesday, the province’s main parties said, blaming each other, though Britain held out hope that a solution could still be reached.
The British province has been without a devolved executive – a central part of a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence – for over a year since Irish nationalists Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory power-sharing government with their arch-rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The long-running talks have also been complicated by the fact that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government depends on the support of the DUP to pass legislation in London.
The two parties, representing mainly Catholic proponents of a united Ireland and Protestant supporters of continued rule by Britain, have failed to meet a number of deadlines. They were told last month by the British and Irish governments that they had one last opportunity to reach a deal.
Related CoverageBritain says still hope for Northern Ireland agreement after talks endSinn Fein says DUP collapsed Northern Ireland talks when deal was within reach“While substantive progress has been made, it appears this phase of talks has reached a conclusion,” Britain’s Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley told reporters.
“The position of the UK government remains the same: devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the union. I believe the basis for an accommodation (between the parties) still exists.”
Two days ago the British and Irish prime ministers raised the prospect of the stalemate ending soon. But the talks collapsed when DUP leader Arlene Foster issued a statement on Wednesday saying she saw no current prospect of a deal.
Foster’s colleague Simon Hamilton told reporters agreement was “impossible” at this time but that the DUP wanted to pick the talks up at a future date. Foster said it was incumbent on London to set a budget for the region in the meantime.
DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks during a news conference in Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
The British government, which is overseeing the talks alongside the Irish government, has already had to take steps toward ruling the region directly from London for the first time in a decade, setting a budget late last year that runs until the end of March.
Many fear direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists who, until last year, had run the province since 2007 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that mostly ended decades of sectarian conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.
Sinn Fein said that they had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP that put an agreement within reach but that the DUP failed to close the deal and collapsed the talks. Its leader in Northern Ireland said direct rule was “not an option.”
The parties have failed to reach agreement on a number of issues, in particular additional rights for Irish-language speakers which Foster highlighted as the chief reason why they had “reached an impasse”.
Sources close to the negotiations told Reuters that some DUP members had issues with the proposed compromise on the Irish language and “robustly raised” their concerns with Foster earlier this week.
The absence of an executive has limited Belfast’s say in Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union, which are set to have a bigger impact on Northern Ireland than on any other part of the United Kingdom.
The prospect of direct rule being re-introduced could also trigger a diplomatic dispute over what role the Irish government should have in the region.
Ireland’s foreign minister said that as co-guarantors of the 1998 peace deal, both governments have an obligation to uphold the letter and spirit of that agreement and that Dublin must “reflect in the coming days on how best to do that.”
Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin;
Mexican Oil Shake-up Likely If Frontrunner Wins Presidency Top Adviser
MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is not opposed to foreign investment in the country’s oil, a top adviser said, but his government would make dramatic changes to energy strategy, including a new focus on refining rather than crude exports.
In perhaps the most significant change envisioned by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the favorite to win the July 1 election, Mexico would seek to end decades of exporting crude in three years, a lawmaker who Lopez Obrador has tapped to be his future energy minister said in an interview.
Instead, Mexico should turn its focus to producing value-added fuels, processing crude domestically to produce more gasoline and diesel at refineries owned by state oil company Pemex, Rocio Nahle told Reuters late on Wednesday.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia,
Haiti Suspends Oxfam Gbs Operating Right Amid Misconduct Probe
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti has temporarily revoked Oxfam Great Britain’s right to operate in the Caribbean country after allegations of sexual misconduct by some of the charity’s staff there, Planning and External Cooperation Minister Aviol Fleurant said on Thursday.
The British aid organization has been rocked by allegations that staff, including a former Haiti country director, used prostitutes during a relief mission after a devastating earthquake hit the island nation in 2010.
Fleurant said the suspension was ordered due to “serious failings” by Oxfam Great Britain between 2010 and 2011, and that a definitive decision on its ability to operate in Haiti would be made in two months following a review of the evidence.
“If during the two month-long investigation I find out there is a link between the aid funds that Oxfam received on behalf of Haiti and the crime that has been committed, we will … declare Oxfam Great Britain persona non grata and they would have to leave the country without further delay,” Fleurant said.
Haiti’s Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Aviol Fleurant shows a document after a meeting with Oxfam International Regional Director for Latin America, Simon Ticehurst, and Oxfam Intermon Executive Affiliate Unit head, Margalida Massot, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Martinez CasaresAlain Lemithe, a lawyer representing Oxfam Great Britain, called the decision to suspend the charity “hasty and political”, saying that it was not based on clear evidence of wrongdoing.
“For example, they accused the organization of sexual abuse and use of minors,” Lemithe said. “Those are very serious allegations which until now have never been proven.”
Slideshow (3 Images)In a separate statement, Fleurant accused Oxfam staff of committing acts of “sexual abuse” and exploitation.
The minister said Oxfam Great Britain had “deliberately omitted” to alert Haitian authorities about the alleged misconduct, thereby allowing perpetrators to escape justice.
Allegations of misconduct surfaced through media investigations and an internal Oxfam report. Fleurant said the revelations had besmirched the “honor and dignity” of Haiti’s people.
The suspension of the charity’s right to operate did not apply to Oxfam Canada, he said.
Brit Newlywed Jon Udall Dies 12 Days After Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash That Killed Three Other Brits And Left His Bride ‘critical’
A NEWLYWED has become the fourth Brit to die in a horrifying Grand Canyon helicopter crash.
Jon Udall has died 12 days after the shocking accident – his new wife, Ellie Milward, is still in a critical condition in hospital.
Jon Udall and his wife Ellie – the pair were on their honeymoon in America
The pair were on their honeymoon in Las Vegas when they took the helicopter tour.
Pictures of the happy couple celebrating their marriage just months before emerged in the days that followed.
Six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon Airways EC-130 when it crashed into the Arizona landmark.
A family friend wrote a heartbroken post confirming Jon’s death on a Just Giving page set up to help pay for their medical costs after the accident.
Jon had been in hospital for 12 days but died from his injuries
Jon and Ellie on their wedding day just months before the horrifying crash
AP:Associated Press A survivor was pitched miraculously walking away from the burning helicopter
He said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I must type this. Our Good friend Jon Udall has succumbed to his injuries.
“He was strong, brave and I will never forget him. I will update this page when possible.
“Ellie is critical and is continuing to fight.”
Stuart Hill, celebrating his 30th birthday, his girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, and his brother Jason, 32, were killed.
Caters They were in America as part of their honeymoon after having got married months before
He had got married just months before the accident Three British tourists killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon have been named by US police
Pals Jennifer Barham, 39, and honeymooning couple Ellie, 29, and Jon, 32, were fighting for their lives in hospital last night – tragically Jon has since died.
Witnesses described scenes of chaos after spotting the sight-seeing aircraft engulfed in flames approximately 600ft inside the ravine.
Jon was trapped in the wreckage for eight hours before being rescued after Ellie staggered free.
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