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Restoring powersharing the priority as Brexit talks begin, says Irish minister

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Mr Varadkar said he was reassured by the commitment to transparency and ensuring the deal does "not in any way impact on the Good Friday Agreement".

The start of Brexit negotiations in Brussels underline the urgent need to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland, Ireland's new foreign minister has said.

The former Northern Ireland First Minister said her meeting with Mr Varadkar was very good and that she was looking forward to a very positive relationship with the Irish premier.

Talks to restore confidence took a back seat in recent days as the political focus largely shifted to London and the DUP's deal to prop up the Conservatives at Westminster.

This was Mr Coveney's first visit to Stormont as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The power-sharing executive in NI broke down in March after Sinn Fein pulled their support following the cash for ash scandal.

On the talks to strike a deal between the DUP and British conservatives to safeguard a new Tory government Mr Coveney said the Government was concerned "that if that deal wasn't an appropriate deal it could undermine the Good Friday agreement".

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The parties have until 29 June to reach agreement and have been warned that direct rule could follow if they can't.

"I think we will continue to work away on that to try to deliver devolution, to get devolution back up and running again for the people of Northern Ireland so we can deliver for them on the issues of health, education, jobs and the economy".

The two dominant parties in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein and the DUP, both have terrorist origins and once killed each other.

THE DUP are living in a "fool's paradise" if they believe there can be a return to the power-sharing institutions without committing to a rights-based approach to government, Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney told the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown on Sunday.

The Minister added that it was important to publish any DUP-Conservatives "straight away so that it is demystified and people don't see conspiracies that aren't there".

During his day in Belfast, he will meet Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire and will also hold meetings with the five main Stormont parties.

Asked if the Brexit process increased the pressure on her party to re-establish an Executive, Mrs O'Neill said Sinn Fein was already making the case across Europe for Northern Ireland to retain special designated European Union status.

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