DUP leader Arlene Foster has said no deal has been reached in talks between her party and Sinn Fein, but “good progress made”.

It comes as speculation mounts an outline of a deal has been agreed between the two main parties. Both Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled to Belfast, it’s thought, to get a deal signed off.

Arlene Foster described the tone of Monday’s talks as “very good”.

“We need a deal that is supported by everybody and that is sustainable,” she said.

“We want devolution. If the public are frustrated at pace of progress, we all are as well.”

The MLA said she had told the Prime Minister she wanted to see devolution returned as soon as possible.

“It is about finding an accommodation that recognises the need to respect all languages and all cultures in Northern Ireland and not allow one to dominate over another.”

She added: “We continue to have those conversations and we will continue to have conversations with Sinn Fein around the outstanding matters and indeed with our own government as well.

“If the public are frustrated at the pace of progress, we all are as well.”

Later Mary Lou McDonald also said there was work to do to reach an agreement.

“Functioning institutions that deliver for the people are in the best interests of everyone,” she said.

The new Sinn Fein president said she had met with both the Irish and British governments and encouraged them to “show leadership”.

“We are not exactly there just yet,” she said.

“Nothing is insurmountable. If there is the political will to reach an agreement we certainly have the determination to find a resolution.

“This has been a long process, the issues are important but they were never beyond resolution.

“We have to find a deal that delivers on the core issues that have been clear from the get go – we are serious about functioning power sharing.

“We are serious about working in good faith and in partnership with others and we expect the same from our unionist partners and the two governments

“This is the time to decide.”

Deputy party leader Michelle O’Neill confirmed a standalone Irish language act was one of their party’s goals in the talks.

“We have to have public confidence in the institutions and the only way to do that is for the institutions to reflect all.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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