Irish PM calls for urgent restoration of Northern Ireland government

Leo Varadkar said: ‘The Irish government will continue to engage with the parties in Northern Ireland and the British government to support the urgent formation of a new executive.’ (PA Images)
Updated 20 February 2018

Irish PM calls for urgent restoration of Northern Ireland government

DUBLIN: Ireland’s Prime Minister called for the urgent restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government on Monday after talks to end a year-long political stalemate broke down yet again last week.
Both the British and Irish governments have said they want to get the talks back on track but neither have suggested when Irish nationalists Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) should return to the negotiating table.
The British province has been without a devolved executive for over a year since Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory coalition with their arch-rivals that has been central to a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence there.
“The (Irish) government will continue to engage with the parties in Northern Ireland and the British government to support the urgent formation of a new executive,” Leo Varadkar said in a statement after meeting with Sinn Fein and speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by phone.
Before meeting Varadkar, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said there should be no delay in resuming talks that she and both governments believe were close to a successful outcome before the DUP pulled out over a disagreement on additional rights for Irish-language speakers.
DUP leader Arlene Foster reiterated her call for London to take further financial control of the region, saying her party remained committed to devolution “but not at any price.”
Britain has already had to take steps toward governing the region directly for the first time in a decade and many fear a return to full British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists.
Britain has said it is absolutely committed to restoring the power-sharing administration and Varadkar repeated on Monday that his government did not want to see the introduction of direct rule across the border.


Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

The wreckage of the car where six French aid workers, their local guide and the driver were killed by unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles in an area of southwestern Niger. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

  • Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group of aid workers as they drove through the giraffe reserve
  • France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert

NIAMEY: French and Nigerien soldiers searched through a giraffe reserve and the surrounding area in Niger on Monday for traces of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers, a French military source said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor also opened an investigation into the incident, in which attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as it drove through the reserve located 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Niamey — an area considered safe by the Niger government.
The French aid workers were employed by the charity ACTED. A local driver working for the relief group and a guide were also killed. ACTED called the murders “senseless and cowardly.”
“This heinous crime must not go unpunished, nor will it distract us from our commitment to support the people of Niger,” said ACTED, which has worked to help vulnerable populations in the country since 2010.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Daesh operate.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” the military source said.
In the clearest sign yet that France believes a militant group was behind the attack, the office of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was launching an investigation on suspicion of the involvement of a terrorist group.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared their families’ grief. “Our determination to combat armed terrorist groups is resolute. The fight continues,” Macron tweeted.
The reserve southeast of Niamey is home to West Africa’s last sizeable population of giraffe in the wild. In the wet season, thick green acacia bushes dot the flat, sandy plains.
It is a popular attraction in Niger, a vast country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria.
France, a former colonial power in the region, has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. The United States also has soldiers based in Niger.
Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.