Taoiseach meets Boris Johnson as power sharing resumes at Stormont

Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster at Stormont last July

"I see no contradiction in declaring and delivering on our firm commitment to power sharing with unionism in the Stormont Assembly while also initiating a mature and inclusive debate about new political arrangements which examine Ireland's future beyond Brexit".

There has been speculation that the United Kingdom government would provide additional GBP 2 billion (EUR 2.3 billion) in funding, but Mr Johnson did not explicitly say how much was offered when asked.

While the Prime Minister refused to reveal how much money had been agreed, Dr Birnie said he expects Mr Smith to provide more clarity in due course.

Mrs Foster said the meetings were "constructive" and ruled out imposing water charges as a revenue-raising measure.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Stormont this morning following the formation of a new power-sharing administration at the weekend.

Recent industrial action caused the cancellation of thousands of outpatient and elective appointments across Northern Ireland.

Although both sides have endorsed the new deal, some elements may still yet prove controversial, notably the issue of the legacy of Northern Ireland's past.

"Never mind the hand of history", Mr Johnson said.

"The breakthrough that we all wanted has been achieved".

"That may well come with strings attached, so for example, and I don't know this, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do press us to raise rates at a higher level, that we have to do something in terms of water rates".

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There are reports the government could announce a £2bn package, but a Downing Street source has described this figure as "just speculation".

Sinn Fein finance minister Conor Murphy said the £2bn (€2.3bn) being spoken of would not be enough.

Ms O'Neill stressed the importance of delivering the funding.

Speaking ahead of the discussions, Mr Johnson said they will focus on how the executive meant to take forward "critical reforms" to public services.

Same-sex marriage is now legally recognised in Northern Ireland.

The Love Equality Campaign for Marriage Equality said in a statement: "Today is the culmination of five years of campaigning for marriage equality and marks an enormous step forward for LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland".

"I look forward to meeting with the new Executive and hearing about their plans for the future - including driving forward much-needed reforms to public services and resolving the current health strike".

In Ireland it became legal in 2015.

Ministers will need to hit the ground running to tackle a host of acute problems facing a public sector that has been floundering amid the 36-month governance vacuum.

After years of negotiations that led nowhere, the DUP and Sinn Fein last week approved an agreement drawn up by the British and Irish governments.

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