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Boris Johnson to meet Northern Ireland Executive after three-year stand-off ends

BORIS JOHNSON will today meet the Northern Ireland Executive — back up and running after three years when unionists and nationalists refused to work together.

The prime minister (pictured) will hold talks in Belfast with first minister Arlene Foster, of the DUP, and her deputy Michelle O’Neill, of Sinn Fein.

They will discuss plans to reform services and end strikes over pay by health workers. The absence of a functioning government saw staff deprived of an increase over three years that NHS employees on the mainland were granted in 2017. The PM said: ‘This is an historic time for the people of Northern Ireland. Stormont is open for business with an executive who can now move forward with improving people’s lives.’

The deal to revive the executive, forged at the weekend with help from the Republic of Ireland, requires fresh inquiries into killings during the Troubles. Unionists fear they will focus too much on state actions in the conflict.

But Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said they were to help families find out ‘what happened to their loved ones’, rather than dishing out blame.

■ PASSING a law to prevent the extension of Brexit negotiations will not force the EU into a rushed deal, Ireland’s deputy premier has warned. Simon Coveney said the EU felt the end of 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson was ‘ambitious, if not unrealistic’ as the pact will include data, aviation and fishing as well as trade. Setting a British law ‘doesn’t mean that that law applies to the other 27 countries of the EU’, he said.