Several previous rounds of talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin have, so far, failed to break the political deadlock after the power-sharing executive made up of the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed in January last year.
This final failed round of talks has sparked fears that Westminster will impose direct rule, especially after the appointment of Shailesh Vara, former vice chairman of the Conservative Party, as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the Northern Ireland Office in the recent cabinet reshuffle.
Mrs Foster said on Wednesday that those talks have been “unsuccessful” and “significant gaps” remain.
She added: ”We do not have a fair and balanced package.”
She called on the government to set a budget and start making policy decisions, and said the party would continue to aim for a restoration of devolution, but it would “not accept a one-sided deal”.
She continued: “Important decisions impacting on everyone in Northern Ireland have been sitting in limbo for too long. I had dearly hoped that we could have restored an Executive and local ministers could have taken those decisions. That is not possible at this time.”
Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein leader, Michelle O’Neil said: “Sinn Féin engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves. We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP.
“The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process”
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley MP: “In the continued absence of an Executive, other challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK government.”
Talks have failed once again at Stormont
Sinn Fein and the DUP met with Theresa May and Leo Varadkar yesterday
I had dearly hoped that we could have restored an Executive and local ministers could have taken those decisions. That is not possible at this time
UUP councilor Christopher Smyth told Express.co.uk: “The UUP is concerned, very much so.
“This party invested so much to bring devolution. That said, political drift cannot continue indefinitely.
“If the big two cannot bring themselves to govern then we have to look at alternatives to the current system. One such option would be voluntary coalition. Where people in the government would want rather than forced to be there.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “This system of devolution is doomed to constant deadlock and failure. Only a coalition of the willing stands any chance of success. If such is not attainable then we need government from the only other place it can come from, Westminster.”
SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood said the collapse in power-sharing talks can’t be allowed to “destroy everything that we have achieved in the peace process”.
Karen Bradley said ‘challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK government’
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said she is “angry” by the announcement and has called on Theresa May and Leo Varadkar to take control of the situation.
She said it is a sad day for the peace process and wider Northern Ireland, after the DUP appeared to pull the plug on the talks.
She added: “We were concerned as long ago as last June the two largest parties were not willing to make the compromises necessary to get devolution up and running again.
“A deal to restore devolution is, was and remains doable. We have sought an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss options for a way forward. The Government has a responsibility to take some kind of control – it is not right over 20 years of political investment should be squandered by a party which represents a minority of people across Northern Ireland.”
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Stormont collapsed 13 months ago when then deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, pulled Sinn Féin out of the coalition after a series of disagreements with the final straw being the DUP’s handling of a scandal over green energy scheme.
The Irish language act has been a major stumbling block, Sinn Féin wants to put Irish on equal par with English, but the DUP is looking to incorporate Ulster Scots language into act.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met Sinn Fein and DUP leaders on Monday leading many to believe that a breakthrough was imminent.
Although an agreement was not reached, leaders had indicated they were close to reaching a deal.
Prime Minister Theresa May urged Northern Ireland’s political leaders to make “one final push” to restore the power-sharing executive.
She added: “While differences remain, I think there is the basis of an agreement here” and hoped that an executive could be “up and running very soon”.