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Mike Nesbitt says decision time is now for Northern Ireland’s political leaders

Niall Carson/PA Wire

By Michael McHugh, David Young and Rebecca Black, PA

It is decision time for political leaders pondering a return to powersharing in Northern Ireland, a senior Ulster Unionist said.

The two largest parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, continued dialogue late into the evening on Wednesday and fresh negotiations were held on Thursday.

Three years since the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned and triggered the collapse of the devolved institutions at Stormont, endless rounds of talks have failed to engineer their resurrection.

Former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the deadline was Monday and the Northern Ireland Secretary chairing proceedings needed to do no more than ask the parties was it a yes or a no.

He added: "Negotiations should be over, it is decision time."

Powersharing collapsed in a row over a botched green energy scheme.

Divisions between the DUP and Sinn Fein over the creation of an Irish language act have prevented its restoration.

Mr Nesbitt said: "We need the DUP and Sinn Fein to show leadership by making a decision today."

A DUP source downplayed the prospect of a breakthrough on Thursday.

He added: "The parties have a lot of work to get through."

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