UK PM May will face leadership challenge if she softens Brexit

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster and the Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds stand on the steps of 10 Downing Street before talks with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in central London Britain

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster and the Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds stand on the steps of 10 Downing Street before talks with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in central London Britain

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has indicated it will push for a "soft" border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as the party closes in on a "confidence and supply" deal with the Conservatives.

In March's assembly elections in Northern Ireland, the unionists emerged for the first time ever without a majority, with the pro-republican Sinn Fein making massive gains.

The UK Government has warned that direct rule from London could be reimposed if the local parties fail to reach an agreement before the June 29 deadline.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: "The Prime Minister will have to do a lot more, however, to convince us that the DUP tail isn't wagging the Tory dog".

Before entering talks with the parties on restoring the institutions on Monday, Mr Coveney held discussions with Northern Secretary James Brokenshire at Stormont House.

The DUP has since acceded to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement - or the Belfast Agreement - which helped bring an end to 30 years of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland in 1998.

"The talks are ongoing, they are very positive, they are constructive".

She said he needed "to deliver for all of [the] citizens on the island of Ireland".

The institutions collapsed amid a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Fein about a botched green energy scheme.

Mr Coveney said a number of "core issues" still stand in the way of an agreement but he said he did not consider them "insurmountable".

Senior DUP representative and former Stormont minister Simon Hamilton also struck a positive tone during a day that saw the first round table plenary session of a talks process that started last week.

A truly neutral guarantor "has in fact never been the reality, but now even this pretence will be dropped", said Emma Clancy, a political adviser for Sinn Fein.

"We want to see an administration set up again that will last and one that will last for all of the people of Northern Ireland", said Ms Foster outside Dublin's Government Buildings.

GERRY Adams has said he told Theresa May that she is in breach of the Good Friday Agreement in their first face-to-face meeting since the election. "We do believe we are getting traction and we are going to continue in that vein", she said.

"We remain committed to a comprehensive outcome to the talks and one that, critically, sees the re-establishment of our institutions".

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