Efforts to broker an agreement on the resumption of power-sharing at Stormont will resume in Belfast on Thursday.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith has indicated that if no deal is in place by a 13 January deadline, he is likely to call fresh Assembly elections.

The devolved administration collapsed three years ago after a row between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Four of the five Stormont parties - Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and Alliance - were indicating a willingness to reach agreement in negotiations with Mr Smith and Tánaiste Simon Coveney in talks before Christmas.

However, the DUP was not prepared to commit to what was on offer at that stage.

It is understood that the DUP has been consulting its party members and its wider support base since then.


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