Westminster involvement in Northern Ireland governance 'inevitable'

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long

"In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed", she said.

Direct rule over Northern Ireland appears imminent with Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill clashing over who's to blame for the collapse of talks.

The British government faces the prospect of having to step in and take previously devolved decisions in Northern Ireland.

Ms Foster added the DUP would not be "held to ransom" and that "serious and significant gaps" remain between both sides on the issue of an Irish Language Act.

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.

"Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for 400 days", Owen said. "That is not possible at this time".

"Sinn Féin engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves".

But Ms Villiers insisted the success of failure of negotiations ultimately depends on Northern Ireland's leaders and in particular its two largest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Mrs McDonald said they would not disclose all the details of the deal to honour any future confidentiality should the talks restart, but they would provide both the British and Irish governments with the full text.

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".

A succession of Prime Ministers have worked hard to deliver agreements but there's only so much they can do, ultimately it is down to Northern Ireland's leaders, she added.

â€Will there be more talks?

I'm sure the Prime Minister's visit will have been helpful but this is a very, very hard set of circumstances and this is a very sensitive issue.

She said that while there was no movement on same-sex marriage, there was a pledge the petition of concern would not be used in any Assembly vote.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been suspended since January 2017, when it broke down amid a scandal over a botched green-energy project.

It is 13 months since Northern Ireland's devolved government collapsed.

Latest News