The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the republican Sinn Fein party could not come to an agreement on the formation of the Government of National Unity of Northern Ireland, despite the progress achieved during the negotiations, British Minister for Northern Ireland James Brockenshire stated on the air of the Sky News television channel Wednesday.
The minister stressed that London will be forced to introduce direct governance in the region to ensure the smooth operation of the public services sector of Northern Ireland. It was abolished by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which provided for the transfer of power in the region to local self-governing bodies created on a coalition basis.
Brokenshire went on saying that a draft budget for Northern Ireland will be introduced to the UK Parliament and is likely to be adopted in London rather than Belfast over the ongoing political crisis in the region, specifying that it will be only for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
“It is now very unlikely that an executive will be in place within a timetable to pass a budget by the end of November, which is the point at which we and the Northern Ireland Civil Service assess that Northern Ireland will begin to run out of resources… I am, therefore, now taking forward the necessary steps that would enable a Budget Bill to be introduced at Westminster at the appropriate moment in order to protect the delivery of public services in Northern Ireland,” Brokenshire said.
Later in the day, Theresa May in her address to the House of Commons commented on the problems the region has faced, saying that the British authorities do not want a return to direct rule in Northern Ireland.
"We all want to see a Northern Ireland executive restored," she stated.
The DUP has commented on the issue by saying that it is ready to re-establish the Northern Ireland executive as the negotiations with Sinn Fein was held back by 'narrow political agenda'.
The situation in the country has been quite tense since January, when the coalition government comprising the DUP and the left-wing Sein Fenn collapsed. The sides have failed to reach a compromise on power balance, therefore raising the specter of direct rule from London. After the June failure by Conservatives to gain a parliamentary majority, UK Prime Minister Theresa May agreed with the DUP for support. However, this step was widely criticized as it might lead to a new collapse in DUP-Sinn Fein talks.