Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks with a worker during a visit to the Bombardier factory in Belfast Northern Ireland before meeting the main political parties at Stormont, for talks aimed at ending the political stalemate that has left Northern Ireland without a government for more than a year Monday Feb. 12, 2018. (Charles McQuillan/PA via AP)

UK, Irish leaders seek end to Northern Ireland stalemate
(Associated Press) - February 13, 2018 - 1:14am

LONDON — The British and Irish prime ministers met political leaders in Belfast on yesterday in a bid to end a political stalemate that has left Northern Ireland without a government for more than a year.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, were holding talks with the main parties in Northern Ireland's collapsed power-sharing administration.

May's office said the trip was aimed at encouraging the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party and Irish nationalists of the Sinn Fein party to resolve their differences.

Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government has been suspended since January 2017, when it broke down amid a scandal over a botched green-energy project. The rift soon widened to broader cultural and political issues, with Sinn Fein demands for Irish-language protections seen as the main sticking point.

The two parties have blamed each other for the impasse that threatens power-sharing, the key achievement of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord that ended decades of bloodshed.

Several U.K.-government-set deadlines to restore the Northern Ireland administration have passed without success, raising the specter that the British government might impose direct rule from London on Northern Ireland.

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