– The devolved government has been unable to pick an executive amid wrangling between the nationalist Sinn Fein party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which must appoint a first minister and their deputy.
"We are in the talks, we are negotiating… but as things stand at the moment I have to be honest with you I think we are heading towards direct rule," DUP’s Donaldson told the BBC broadcaster.
The crisis started when Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness quit as deputy prime minister over DUP’s handling of a Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, effectively ending First Minister Arlene Foster’s term in office.
James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland in the UK government, reportedly warned the rival parties they had to reach an agreement by early May or face a snap parliamentary election and possibly direct rule.
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