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What direct rule in Northern Ireland means for the UK
15 February 2018, 07:27 | Glen Norman
The Irish and British governments will seek a way to get talks on restoring Northern Ireland's power-sharing government back on track and neither is contemplating a return of direct rule from London, Ireland's foreign minister said on Thursday.
The Irish and British governments say they're continuing to discuss a way forward, after the collapse of the talks.
Westminster being forced to set Northern Ireland's budget is "increasingly inevitable", a former Cabinet minister has claimed after powersharing talks collapsed.
"The position of the United Kingdom government remains the same: devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the union".
Two days ago the British and Irish prime ministers raised the prospect of the stalemate ending soon.
DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed on Wednesday there is no current prospect of discussions with Sinn Fein leading to the re-establishment of Northern Ireland'sgovernment.
The British government, which is overseeing the talks alongside the Irish government, has already had to take steps towards ruling the region directly from London for the first time in a decade, setting a budget late previous year that runs until the end of March.
Ms Foster called the PM's trip a "distraction", with DUP chief negotiator Simon Hamilton doubling down on the snub, saying: "I don't think it was entirely helpful towards us reaching a sensible conclusion".
She told Sky News: I hope that the immediate next move is that the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein will keep talking to one another, to the Northern Ireland Secretary and that attempts to reach an accommodation will carry on.
Many fear a return to British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists who, until previous year, had run the province since 2007 under the terms of the 1998 accord that mostly ended decades of sectarian conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.
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Mrs Foster blamed a dispute over Irish language legislation for Wednesday's breakdown in negotiations, with Sinn Fein wanting standalone laws to protect speakers.
Mrs Foster has insisted it is now incumbent on Westminster to begin direct rule in the continued absence of a devolved administration.
Talks between the leaders of Northern Ireland's two biggest political parties to re-establish a government in Stormont have broken down.
Complications or not, direct rule appears to be likely.
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