NewsNorthern Ireland

Deal with Sinn Fein 'very much doable', says DUP's Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster: "It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance"
Arlene Foster: "It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance"

Arlene Foster has insisted a deal to restore a powersharing administration in Northern Ireland can be reached by the end of the month.

Speaking in Dublin after a meeting with the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the Democratic Unionist Party leader said it was down to Sinn Fein whether an agreement is done.

"It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance," she said.

Northern Ireland has been without a powersharing executive since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January, after Sinn Fein collapsed the administration amid faltering trust and relations with the DUP.

Talks to restore confidence took a back seat in recent days as the political focus largely shifted to London and the DUP's deal to prop up the Conservatives at Westminster.

But Stormont parties have a June 29 deadline to end the impasse and reach consensus on re-establishing a devolved administration in the region.

"We want to see an administration set up again that will last and one that will last for all of the people of Northern Ireland," said Ms Foster outside Dublin's Government Buildings.

"We will go into speak with Sinn Fein again on Monday morning to try and get that set up as quickly as possible, because devolution works and works for everybody in Northern Ireland."

Ms Foster said the talks deadline remained "realistic".

"I think it is very much doable to have a deal by the end of this month," she added.

The DUP leader dismissed suggestions her deal with the Tories undermined the peace process.

"There is an irony to being lectured by some about our role in the national government of the United Kingdom when Sinn Fein want to be in government here in the Republic of Ireland," she said.

"What would happen then? Would we then say they shouldn't be in government in the Republic? They can't have it both ways, it has to be dealt with sensibly," she said.

On Brexit, Ms Foster said her party wanted to see "a sensible Brexit and one that works for everybody."

The former Northern Ireland first minister said her meeting with Mr Varadkar was very good and that she was looking forward to a very positive relationship with the Irish premier.

"We know each other and we understand each other," she said.