Northern Ireland close to deal on power-sharing

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Mary Lou McDonald will also attend the talks today for the first time as leader of Sinn Féin.

'I believe in a woman's right to choose and that has been my position for a very, very long time, ' she said.

On Monday the Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadakar travelled to Stormont to encourage the region's parties to finally end the deadlock that has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government since last January.

After a day of negotiations brokered by Theresa May and Leo Varadkar, her Irish counterpart, the leaders of Sinn Féin and the DUP both expressed optimism that agreement was close.

The high-profile political duo arrived at Stormont House before lunchtime.

'However they want to describe it, the DUP know that agreement requires an Acht Gaeilge.

But due to the DUP's opposition of same sex marriage and abortion, she said talks over Northern Ireland's self rule could be hindered.

May's trip will begin with a visit to a local business, meant to highlight the government's commitment to frictionless trade.

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Bombardier's bitter trade dispute with Boeing had threatened jobs at the Belfast plant, but there was relief at the plant last month when a proposed 292% tariff on the US import of the jets was overturned by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington DC.

Democractic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has said there is no prospect of restoring Northern Ireland's devolved government. Sinn Fein's vice president Michelle O'Neill, from the North, has predicted that the Stormont talks would conclude this week, and she has reason to know.

The main sticking point preventing the restoration of an executive is the Irish language.

Since the March 2017 election, Irish nationalists and pro-British unionists were unable to find common ground on divisive issues such as the Irish language act and legacy issues inherited from decades of violence popularly known as the Troubles.

McDonald promised "fresh thinking" and "bold ideas" after she replaced Gerry Adams, who led Sinn Fein for 35 years, on Saturday.

He said it is not enough to simply form a new executive.

But while such hopes proved unfounded, all parties said an accord was in sight.

"Martin McGuinness said there would be no return to the status quo".

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