Northern Ireland could again be ruled directly from London if the country’s governing parties fail to agree on a plan to resolve deep disagreements over paramilitarism and welfare reform, the secretary of state has warned.

The Guardian reports:

Secretary of state Theresa Villiers told the Conservative party conference on Wednesday the survival of devolved government was now at stake in the talks going on in Belfast between unionist and nationalist parties.

Villiers said “a return to direct rule would be a severe setback” but admitted transferring powers back to London cannot be ruled out.

Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government is under threat over two key issues: the alleged ongoing existence of the Provisional IRA and the Ulster parties’ inability to reach consensus on welfare reforms.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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