Accra, Nov. 01,(dpa/GNA) - The British
government on Wednesday said it plans to set a budget for Northern Ireland's
devolved administration, amid a nine-month impasse in talks on reviving power
sharing in the territory.
James Brokenshire, London's Northern Ireland minister, said it was "very unlikely" that any agreement would be reached to form a new devolved administration in time to agree a budget by the end of November, when officials believe the territory "will begin to run out of resources."
"No government could simply stand by and allow that to happen," Brokenshire told reporters after talks in Belfast.
"I'm therefore now taking forward the necessary steps that would enable a budget bill to be introduced [in the British parliament] at Westminster at the appropriate moment in order to protect the delivery of public services in Northern Ireland."
Brokenshire said the setting of a budget in London would not mean a return to direct rule of Northern Ireland, adding that he is prepared to withdraw the bill if agreement can be reached on power sharing by the end of the month.
"Let me be clear, this is not a barrier to continued political negotiations and the government will continue to work with the parties with that intent," he said.
Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive, under which the Democratic Unionist Party had worked with rival Republican Party Sinn Fein since 2007, collapsed in January after DUP leader Arlene Foster refused to cede to Sinn Fein's demands to step aside while a failed renewable heating incentive scheme was being investigated.