Stormont deadline extended again to avoid clash with General Election

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By Deborah McAleese, Press Association

Crisis talks at Stormont aimed at restoring powersharing are to be extended to after the general election.

Sources involved in the negotiations have said parties will be given three weeks after the June 8 election to reach a deal.

The Government is to publish legislation to deal with rates and budget matters on Friday.

Earlier Sinn Fein has accused the British Government of wanting powersharing in Northern Ireland to fail.

Michelle O'Neill, leader of the party in the region, said the Prime Minister does not want a Stormont Executive that will stand against Brexit.

She made her comments following a meeting with Secretary of State James Brokenshire who is holding talks with the main political parties aimed at restoring powersharing.

Meetings with Sinn Fein and the SDLP were particularly tense as both parties are angry at Theresa May's decision to call a general election in the middle of the Stormont stalemate.

"There is a growing belief out there among the wider nationalist community that the Government don't want a powersharing executive to work here.

"They don't want an executive that is going to take a firm stand against Brexit because obviously the majority of people here voted to remain in the European Union," said Ms O'Neill.

On Friday Mr Brokenshire is set to publish emergency legislation to clear the way for the collection of rates in Northern Ireland.

It is one of a number of planned contingency moves to deal with pressures caused by the ongoing political crisis.

If a deal cannot be reached at Stormont by early May, Mr Brokenshire will have to decide to call another assembly election or pause the process until after the general election.

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