Irish lawmakers return after a three-year hiatus

Stormont Assembly being recall

Stormont Assembly being recalled after deal tabled on power-sharing

The deal "focuses on delivering what matters to citizens in Northern Ireland" - including better public services, a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Northern Ireland has been run by officials with limited decision-making powers since 2017.

In a statement the Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches said it strikes an accommodation.

"We now have the basis to restore power sharing, and we are ready for that", said Mary Lou McDonald, president of Sinn Fein, at a press conference today.

In a historic move coming three years and one day after it was collapsed by late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. The five-party coalition also includes the moderate nationalist SDLP, the pro-British Ulster Unionists and the cross-community Alliance Party.

Miss McDonald said: 'We now have the basis to restore power-sharing, and we're up for that.

'But the biggest and most significant challenge will be ensuring we have genuine power-sharing built on equality, respect and integrity.

Legislators returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time in three years after an agreement was reached to restore the mottled government of the divided region.

Based on the d'Hondt system, the number of seats a party wins in a general election determines the proportion of unionist or nationalist ministers in a sitting Executive.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey had been elected as the new speaker of the Assembly.

Michelle O'Neill, leader of Sinn Fein, was appointed deputy first minister as part of the accord and told the assembly in Belfast: "This is a defining moment for politics here".

The importance of the devolved administration has increased because a provision in Britain's European Union withdrawal deal will give the assembly the right every four years to consider whether to maintain alignment with EU market rules.

The two parties had been facing a January 13 deadline to provide Northern Ireland with a new government or hold new elections.

The sweetener was a major Treasury-funded cash package to tackle a host of public sector problems.

"However, the restoration of this Assembly and Executive alone will not solve our waiting lists or reduce the staff pressures in our hospitals".

Northern Ireland - part of the United Kingdom along with England, Wales and Scotland - has been without a functioning administration since the power-sharing government set up after a 1998 peace accord fell apart in January 2017 over a botched green-energy project.

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