DUBLIN (Reuters) - The British and Irish governments will on Friday announce a resumption of talks to restore devolved regional government in Northern Ireland after a hiatus in dialogue of more than a year, Irish state broadcaster RTE reported.
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved executive for over two years since Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory power-sharing government with the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The executive is central to a 1998 agreement that ended three decades of sectarian violence between Protestant unionists committed to keeping Northern Ireland as a British province and Catholic nationalists seeking a merger with Ireland. Some 3,600 people died during the so-called “Troubles”.
Attempts to break the power-sharing deadlock have been complicated by poor relations between Sinn Fein and the DUP, the DUP’s role in propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government in London, and the impact on Northern Ireland of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.
But the shooting death last week of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee during rioting by militant Irish nationalists has raised pressure on the province’s main parties to re-establish the regional government.
RTE said talks would begin after local elections in Northern Ireland next week but before European parliament voting on May 23.
A spokesman for the British government’s Northern Ireland Office declined comment and said it was working to restore devolution at the “earliest opportunity.” Irish government officials did not immediately respond for requests for comment.
Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Amanda Ferguson in Belfast; Editing by Mark Heinrich