Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire has said that talks to restore the Executive are at a “critical point”.

Addressing a meeting of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), Mr Brokenshire said: “The window for the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland is short, but we are reaching a critical point which I would have to consider next steps.

“I’ve been very open about this. Now is the time for the parties to look beyond their differences, harness a spirit of compromise and reach agreement.”

Mr Brokenshire’s remarks echo comments made by Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney earlier this week when he said that talks had reached a “sensitive” point.

Speaking to the Seanad in Dublin, Mr Coveney said the DUP and Sinn Fein “want to make the process work”, but that he didn’t think “it would be helpful to make a running commentary today”.

Also on Thursday, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the government was “very hopeful” of good news coming from Northern Ireland to reestablish the Executive.

Mrs Leadsom made the comments while unveiling business for discussion next week, which was notable for the omission of a discussion on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Responding to shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz, Ms Leadsom said: “She will be aware that we’re very hopeful that there may be some good news coming from Northern Ireland that might enable legislation to recreate the Northern Ireland Executive.

“We always wait hopefully that that will be the case, and other legislation that can come up at the last minute.

“So I think that it’s always very important that we give as much notice as possible, but it’s perfectly normal practice to only have one week’s business mentioned.”

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