Details of power-sharing compromises allegedly conceded by the DUP and Sinn Féin must be made public, the SDLP leader has said.

On the first day of last-ditch talks to save the crisis-hit institutions, Colum Eastwood said the British and Irish governments had told him Stormont's two main parties had given significant ground on key sticking points last November and were very close to a deal.

He said it was time for the DUP and Sinn Féin to stop pretending to the public they had not shifted their negotiation positions.

"We are not interested in propping up a farce and it's about time we began to be honest with the public because the two governments have both confirmed to us today what we all already know - that last November both the DUP and Sinn Féin compromised significantly, compromised significantly, and they are denying that truth to the public," he said.

"Why they are doing that I cannot understand. Stop trying to pretend to the public that nobody has moved and nobody has compromised."

However, Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said he did not see any point in publishing any details on last autumn's DUP/Sinn Féin talks.

"We said last year we made progress in the talks, we said we haven't made enough progress, we were very clear about all of that," he said.

"But we have never conducted our negotiations in public and that has served negotiations well over the last 20 years, so I don't think it serves any point to conduct negotiations in public."

Mr Murphy indicated his party was positive about the DUP's stated approach to the new talks.

"We look forward to seeing that approach tomorrow when we engage with them," he said.

The first days of the latest round of negotiations saw Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney meet the five main Stormont parties.

The DUP and Sinn Féin met both government ministers together.


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Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell described the tone of the meeting with the Northern Ireland Secretary as "quite useful" and "quite productive" and said: "There were no walkouts. It was useful but we need more than useful meetings. We need more than productive meetings. We need an outcome."

Mr Campbell, one of the DUP's most senior negotiators, said the need to set a budget, as well as financial difficulties facing Northern Ireland's health and education services, had given an added impetus to the need for success.

"We have passed the time for talks, it is time to get government back up and running," he added.

The DUP was prepared to go into government without preconditions immediately, said Mr Campbell.

"Minds need to be concentrated now. We know what the issues are and we know what is sellable and doable. Now we needed to be sure to get to the finish line and get the product that both communities can live with," he said.

More than a year since the institutions collapsed, and with financial pressures mounting, the UK government has characterised the initiative as a final opportunity to salvage the devolved institutions.

The DUP/Sinn Féin-led coalition ended amid a row over a botched green energy scheme but the rift between the two largest parties subsequently widened to take in more longstanding cultural and legacy disputes.

Proposals to protect Irish language speakers, the ban on same-sex marriage and a lack of consensus on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles remain key areas of disagreement.

A series of rounds of talks over the last 12 months have failed, with deadline after deadline set by the UK government falling by the wayside.

Exchanges last autumn were confined to behind-closed-doors discussions solely involving the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Mr Eastwood claimed those discussions saw both parties offer major compromises.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann has said his party held a forthright and honest meeting with Ms Bradley during which they stressed the need for an inclusive five party talks process.

He said: "We won't simply be here as window dressing."

Mr Swann also called for clarity on progress made during previous negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

He added: "We see no point in joining a process to rehearse or regurgitate arguments and discussions that have already been. We need to see the baselines. There is no point going in and wasting another week and a half establishing or regurgitating arguments that have already been had."

Ms Bradley is due to update the House of Commons on the state of play on 7 February.

She has insisted this is not a deadline, rather a "milestone".

David Sterling, the senior civil servant who has been running Stormont in the absence of ministers, told a Westminster committee today that "budget certainty" for the next financial year must be secured by 8 February.