NI: Arlene Foster warns election timetable will delay legacy talks

First Minister Arlene Foster
First Minister Arlene Foster

Northern Ireland’s new First Minister Arlene Foster has told the Northern Ireland Assembly that the election timetable in Ireland and Northern Ireland will further delay political agreement on legacy issues.

Mrs Foster made the comments while addressing the chamber for her first Question Time as First Minister since replacing Peter Robinson last week.

She said: “I think that many of us - indeed, probably all of us - were disappointed that we were not able to get agreement on the legacy issues. I have to say that great work has been carried out.

“We were very close to having a comprehensive agreement on dealing with the past. That is why I think that it is important to continue to engage with our own Government, with that of the Republic of Ireland and, most importantly, with the victim sector to try to move the issue forward.

“In doing so, we have to be honest and open about the chances of doing that at a particular time. I have been asked whether I think this will be sorted before our next election, and I have to be honest with victims and say that I think it is not going to happen before the next election because there is an election coming in the Republic of Ireland and we have an election in May.

“I just do not think that we are going to be able to deal with those issues in the short timescale that we have.”

Mrs Foster also told MLAs that funding for PSNI investigations into legacy cases was “an ongoing issue that we need to discuss with our own Government”.

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