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DUP and Conservatives 'making progress' on deal

RTÉ quotes a DUP source as saying the talks "haven't proceeded in a way that the DUP would have expected" and a deal "can't be taken for granted". "Failure to reach agreement will catapult Northern Ireland into a serious crisis", he adds, since in that case "the choice is between direct rule from Whitehall, which is considered illegitimate by nationalists and the Irish government, or new elections, which nobody wants".

"Most of them are working-class people, who are about witness their representatives keeping in power a vicious anti-working class government, and I'm hoping to pierce their consciousness".

Across the Irish Sea, the Belfast Telegraph newspaper reported: "The DUP has warned that a deal with Theresa May to shore up her minority government is certainly not imminent".

However, in a sign of growing disarray at the top of government, May will push ahead with her Queen's Speech, despite having failed to secure the support of the DUP to vote for it.

Earlier, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson suggested the omission from the speech of Conservative manifesto pledges to end the triple lock for pensioners and means testing for the winter fuel allowance was also evidence of DUP sway.

Since talks began with the DUP nearly two weeks ago in the chaos following May's unexpected loss of her majority, the negotiations have followed an uncertain course with conflicting signals about whether a deal would be struck.

Last night DUP unnamed sources warned that the party can not be "taken for granted", the BBC report said. "We made it very clear that any package (on restoring power-sharing) that is delivered, there has to be a strong financial package to allow us to deliver good public services when we get the executive up and running again".

"The talks have been taking place in a constructive way", the First Secretary of State told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. I think since that has happened we have been moving forwards. "So what we are asking for is some help to make up that deficit".

The anticipated arrangement has forced the UK Government to reject suggestions its commitment to act with impartiality in Northern Ireland - as set out in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement - will be fatally undermined by any pact with the DUP. But nearly certainly, the DUP - as well as other parties in Northern Ireland and the Dublin government - hope to preserve free flow of goods and people across the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, a welcome development since the Good Friday Agreement.



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