DUBLIN (AP) — Britain says Northern Ireland is at dire risk of losing self-government if rival parties fail within weeks to resolve key differences.
Secretary of State James Brokenshire says local leaders still have “a few short weeks to resolve matters.” Otherwise, he warns, Britain will be obliged to assume full control of the territory’s unraveled government.
Brokenshire spoke Monday just minutes after the formal expiry of a legal deadline to revive a Catholic-Protestant government, the central achievement of Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord.
The main Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, triggered power-sharing’s collapse in January and withdrew again from talks Sunday citing multiple grievances with the British Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party.
Brokenshire says Belfast civil servants will assume essential government responsibilities this week, but the government limbo cannot continue indefinitely.