Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has expressed confidence that a political deal can be achieved this week as the British and Irish governments and the North’s five main parties work to sign off on an updated Stormont House Agreement.
Kenny, speaking in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland where he attended a Remembrance Sunday ceremony, said a blueprint agreement had been written but it needed some final touches. Senior sources said a deal could be done on Thursday.
Kenny met British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street on Monday. He also met the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to try to resolve any outstanding issues before a deal can be concluded.
Dublin and London and the North’s five main political parties are seeking to restore stability to the Northern Executive and Assembly.
Kenny, who joined Unionist politicians to lay a laurel wreath among the red poppy wreaths at Enniskillen’s war memorial said, “I am very hopeful that a deal is on here and I hope that it can be concluded in the next couple of days.
“Of course it is never signed until everybody has agreed fully and I hope that can happen this week.”
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who was in Toronto, also said the talks were “entering a concluding phase.”
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan added, "The talks have been ongoing for nine weeks and particularly important progress has been made in recent days. I urge all of Northern Ireland's political leaders to show great courage and leadership in the days ahead to achieve a comprehensive agreement that charts the way to a better future for every community in Northern Ireland."
The political crisis in the North was partly sparked by the murders of two ex-IRA men, and police belief that the IRA still existed. Also contributing was Sinn Fein and the SDLP’s opposition to welfare reform.
Kenny was in Enniskillen remembering both the dead of the First World War and the 12 people who died as a result of an IRA no-warning bomb at the war memorial in the Co. Fermanagh town on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.
Flanagan joined the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers to lay a laurel wreath at the cenotaph in Belfast.
In Cork, the lord mayor Chris O’Leary of Sinn Fein became embroiled in a war of words with the Royal British Legion over his failure to attend or send a deputy to the legion’s Remembrance Day commemoration in the city.
According to chairman of the Cork branch of the Royal British Legion, this was the first time in more than 40 years that the lord mayor of Cork would not attend.
O’Leary, the first Sinn Fein lord mayor of Cork in more than 90 years, rejected suggestions he had snubbed the legion. He said he had made a prior commitment to attend the FAI Cup final to support Cork City.