New Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has stated there can be no return to direct rule in Northern Ireland following the collapse of the latest talks there.

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster pulled the plug Wednesday over differences in support for the Irish language.

McDonald told IrishCentral both sides seemed to have an agreement on the Irish language issue but claimed Foster yielded to pressure from extreme unionists.

At the weekend a compromise appeared to be shaping up allowing a separate Ulster Scots language act to be established in addition to the Irish language act. However, it became clear that many unionists were vehemently opposed.

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McDonald told IrishCentral that the two governments now must get centrally involved in finding a solution but there can be no compromise about an Irish language act which is already enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley says decisions will have to be taken for Northern Ireland and that she will update Parliament after recess next week. Taking no questions from the press over collapsed #Stormont talks

— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) February 14, 2018

The Irish and British leaders, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Theresa May, had come to Northern Ireland in expectation of a settlement on Monday but returned empty handed after Foster yielded to pressure from hardliners.

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McDonald stated she had met with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to discuss next steps but emphasized again direct rule from Westminster was out. Despite the collapse she stated she remained optimistic a deal could be struck with the proper commitment from the two governments.

The DUP leader said “serious and significant gaps” remained between her party and Sinn Féin especially on the issue of the Irish language. “In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed,” said  Foster. “For almost four weeks, we have been engaged in intensive negotiations with Sinn Féin. We have attempted to find a stable and sustainable basis for restoring devolution. Those discussions have been unsuccessful,” she said.

“Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Féin especially on the issue of the Irish language,” she added.

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