London, Feb 14 (AFP) Talks to restore a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland collapsed today and the former first minister called on the British government to take control over policymaking.

“In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an executive being formed,” Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said in a statement.

She said there remained “serious and significant gaps” between the pro-British DUP and the republican Sinn Fein party over the issue of the use of the Irish language in Northern Ireland.

“It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure,” Foster said.

“Important decisions impacting on everyone in Northern Ireland have been sitting in limbo for too long.” The devolved government in Belfast has been suspended since January 2017, when Sinn Fein pulled out of the power-sharing arrangement with the DUP, citing a breakdown in trust.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, flew in for talks on Monday, raising hopes that a deal was close.

Yesterday, Foster said their presence had proved a “bit of a distraction” as it interrupted negotiations.

A day later, she said: “Restoring a sustainable and fully functioning devolved government will remain our goal but we will not accept a one-sided deal.” (AFP) 15020106

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.