Tag Archives: UK

Budget 2017: Hammond to ‘seize opportunities’ from Brexit

Theresa May and Philip HammondImage copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May made Philip Hammond her chancellor in June 2016

The UK must “seize the opportunities” from Brexit while tackling deep-seated economic challenges “head on”, Philip Hammond is to say in his second Budget.

The chancellor will promise investment to make Britain “fit for the future” as an “outward looking, free-trading nation” once it leaves the EU in 2019.

But he will also commit to supporting hard-pressed families with the cost of living and address housing shortages.

Labour say he should call time on austerity and boost public services.

In his Commons speech, which will begin at about 12:30 GMT, Mr Hammond will set out proposed tax and spending changes.

He will also update MPs on the current state of the economy, future growth projections and the health of the public finances.

He has been under pressure in recent months from sections of his party who argue that he is too pessimistic about the UK‘s prospects when it leaves the EU.

In response, he will set out his vision for the UK after Brexit as a “prosperous and inclusive economy” which harnesses the power of technological change and innovation to be a “force for good in the world”.

What will be in the Budget?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Millennials are getting money off rail tickets but will there be anything else for them?

Unlike past years, few announcements have been briefed out in advance of the big day.

But the chancellor is expected to announce more money for teacher training in England and extra cash to boost the numbers of students taking maths after the age of 16.

He has signalled he wants to speed up permitted housing developments and give more help to small builders.

In a nod to younger voters, discounted rail cards will be extended.


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An extra £2.3bn for research and development and £1.7bn for transport links are designed to address the UK’s lagging productivity.

Extra money is also expected to be found for new charge points for electric cars and for the next generation of 5G mobile networks.

Expect the theme of innovation to ring through the speech, with Mr Hammond hailing the UK as being “at the forefront of a technological revolution”.

Will it be a ‘bold’ or ‘boring’ Budget?

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Media captionWatch Nicholas Watt’s 2016 profile of the man nicknamed SpreadSheet Phil

The image Mr Hammond has cultivated as a safe, unflashy pair of hands in uncertain times – hence his ironic “box office Phil” nickname – was dented in the March Budget when he had to backtrack on plans to hike National Insurance for the self-employed.

Asked on Sunday whether this would be a bold or boring Budget, he settled for describing it as “balanced”.

While some Tory MPs would prefer a safety-first approach with no controversy, others want him to turbo-charge efforts to prepare the UK for life after Brexit.

Most hope he will begin to address issues perceived to have hurt the Tories at the election, such as the financial pressures on public sector workers and young people.

In remarks released ahead of the speech, Mr Hammond strikes an upbeat tone, saying he will use the Budget to “look forwards, embrace change, meet our challenges head on and seize the opportunities for Britain”.

Isn’t the Budget normally in Spring?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Leaves rather than daffodils will be the backdrop to Budgets from now on

Yes, that’s the way it’s been for the last twenty years. The last one was in March and normally there wouldn’t be another one until Spring 2018.

But Mr Hammond thinks late autumn is a more suitable time for tax and spending changes to be announced and scrutinised before the start of the tax year in April. So from now on, Budgets will take place in November.

But aside from the timing, the choreography of Budget day will remain the same.

Mr Hammond will be photographed in Downing Street holding the famous red ministerial box – used to carry the statement – aloft before making the short journey to the Commons.

While tradition dictates he can take a swig of his chosen tipple during his speech, Mr Hammond is expected to eschew anything too strong and confine himself to water during what is normally an hour-long statement.

What’s happened since the last Budget?

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Media captionThe chancellor speaking about the economy on the Andrew Marr show

Quite a lot. In the last nine months, the UK has triggered Brexit and begun negotiations on the terms of its departure from the EU.

Economic conditions have changed too, although there is fierce debate about how much of this is attributable to uncertainty and negativity over Brexit.

Inflation has risen to 3%, its highest level in five years, while growth has faltered a little.

However, borrowing levels are at a 10-year low, giving Mr Hammond more flexibility, while employment remains at record levels.

The political backdrop has also changed enormously.

The loss of their majority in June’s election sparked fresh Brexit infighting within the Conservatives.

The government has the backing of the DUP, but Mr Hammond – who is distrusted by many on the right of the party – does not have unlimited political capital in the bank.

What sort of advice he is getting?

Free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute is among campaigners urging an end to stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable says housing and the NHS should be the priorities.

And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell wants immediate action to reduce inequality.


Bomber’s brother ‘was plotting terror act in the UK’

Abu Musa al-BritaniImage copyright Other
Image caption The court was told Mohammed Awan’s brother Rizwan appeared to have joined the Islamic State (IS) group

The brother of a suicide bomber killed in Iraq was caught by police preparing to commit an act of terrorism in the UK, a court has heard.

Mohammed Awan, 24, was arrested days after buying 500 ball bearings, and possessed extremist material advising they could be used in home-made bombs.

It is alleged the dentistry student from Huddersfield owned a guide book on how to form a sleeper cell in the West.

His brother Rizwan Awan killed dozens in a bomb blast in Iraq in 2016.

Sheffield Crown Court was told Rizwan had travelled from Manchester to Istanbul on 17 May, 2015 and appeared to have joined the Islamic State (IS) group.

Image caption Anti-terror police carried out a raid at the family home in Huddersfield

The court heard anti-terror police swooped on 1 June this year after Awan, a Sheffield University student, had bought a bag of ball bearings on the internet.

They were delivered to the family home in Rudding Street, Huddersfield.

More material was discovered during a raid at his flat in Sheffield, including a terrorist publication titled ‘How to Survive in the West’ which was found on a memory stick headed ‘My Stuff’.

The court was told the document is a guide book on how to create a sleeper cell, including advice on using ball bearings as shrapnel and how to make bombs.

A review of images and audio files taken from a mobile phone included pictures of the Boston marathon bombing and a man wearing an orange jumpsuit about to be executed.

Awan claimed the memory stick belonged to his dead brother and he had kept it for sentimental reasons.

But the prosecution said Rizwan Awan’s own digital services had been reset to factory settings and wiped clean before he left the country.

Mohammed Awan denies preparing an act of terrorism and two charges of possessing terrorist-related documents.

The trial continues.

‘Ice Maiden’ team aim to break ski record

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Media captionHow female explorers face challenges of south pole trek

Six women from the British army are attempting to become the first all-female group to ski coast-to-coast across Antarctica.

The Ice Maiden team began the 1,000-mile expedition on Monday, pulling an 80kg sledge behind them.

The journey is expected to last between 75 and 90 days, with winds of up to 60mph and temperatures as low as -40C.

Lt Jenni Stephenson said she hoped the trip would “inspire and encourage” other women.

The team was chosen from 250 applicants, with the only requirements being that they were female and serving in the Army as a regular or reservist.

They were then put through rigorous tests in the UK and Norway before the final six were picked.

Image copyright British Army
Image caption The team left Heathrow on the 25th October for Chile for final preparations before heading to Antarctica on 3rd November

The expedition was due to start on 3 November, but poor weather conditions at the Union Glacier camp delayed them.

However, they still held a two-minute silence and played the Last Post on Remembrance Day at the camp, marking the moment on the quietest continent on earth in front of a cross made of skis.

The team will not return until after new year.

Image copyright British Army
Image caption The team held a Remembrance service on 11 November

Lt Stephenson said: “I feel incredibly lucky to be part of a team of confident, aspirational and positive women.

“We’ve all sacrificed various parts of our lives to focus on the expedition, but the most important part lies in its aim to inspire and encourage other people to find their own Antarctica.

“I hope we can go some way to achieving this.”

Scientist finds UK water companies use ‘magic’ to find leaks

Diving rodsImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The process of using divining rod has been in use for hundreds of years

Water companies are using divining rods to find underground pipes despite there being no scientific evidence they work, an Oxford University scientist found.

Sally Le Page said her parents were surprised when a technician used two “bent tent pegs” to find a mains pipe.

She contacted all the UK’s water companies, and a majority confirmed engineers still use the centuries-old technique.

However, a number said the equipment was not standard-issue equipment.

The process of using divining rods, also known as dowsing, has been in use for hundreds of years.

‘No evidence’

A dowser will typically hold the rods, usually shaped like the letter Y, while walking over land and being alert for any movement to find water.

Evolutionary biologist Ms Le Page, whose parents live in Stratford-upon-Avon, first contacted Severn Trent Water via Twitter.

It replied: “We’ve found that some of the older methods are just as effective than the new ones, but we do use drones as well, and now satellites.”

Other companies which gave a similar response were:

  • Anglian Water
  • Thames Water
  • Scottish Water
  • Southern Water
  • Welsh Water
  • South West Water
  • United Utilities
  • Yorkshire Water

Ms Le Page said: “I can’t state this enough: there is no scientifically rigorous, doubly blind evidence that divining rods work.

“Isn’t it a bit silly that big companies are still using magic to do their jobs?”

In a statement issued later, Severn Trent said: “We don’t issue divining rods but we believe some of our engineers use them.”

All the companies emphasised they do not encourage the use of divining rods nor issue them to engineers, and said modern methods such as drones and listening devices were preferred.

Northern Ireland Water, Northumbrian Water and Wessex Water said their engineers do not use them.

Charles Bronson refused parole at HMP Wakefield

Charles Bronson in 1992Image copyright PA
Image caption Charles Bronson in 1992 – that year, he spent 53 days outside prison before being arrested again

One of the UK‘s most violent prisoners, Charles Bronson has been refused parole.

A board ruled that Bronson, now called Charles Salvador, should not be released from HMP Wakefield or moved to an open prison.

The 63-year-old is serving a life sentence for robbery and kidnap and has gained notoriety for a history of violence inside and outside jail.

He must now wait another two years for a review of his case.

Bronson’s bride: ‘We’re very similar creatures’

Luton-born Bronson recently got married to former Emmerdale and Coronation Street actress Paula Williamson inside the West Yorkshire prison.

Image copyright BBC, Paula Williamson
Image caption Paula Williamson wrote to Bronson in 2013 after reading his book on living in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital

Speaking after the decision, his 37-year-old wife said: “He’s not going to be released any time soon.”

She told Talk Radio: “Charlie has admitted his wrongdoings and he’s served his time for every single offence that he’s committed, and well over that time, and it’s time now for him to move forward. He’s an OAP.”

Bronson’s jail history

  • 1974 First jailed, age 22, for armed robbery and wounding
  • 1975 Attacked a fellow prisoner with a glass jug
  • 1985 Carried out a three-day rooftop protest
  • 1988 Returned to prison for robbing a jewellery shop
  • 1992 Released, but found guilty shortly afterwards of conspiracy to rob
  • 1994 Holds a prison librarian hostage, demanding a helicopter and tea
  • 1998 Takes three inmates hostage at Belmarsh
  • 1999 Given a life sentence with a three-year tariff for kidnapping
  • 2014 Assaulted prison governor Alan Parkins

The parole hearing was on 7 November.

A Parole Board spokesman said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has not directed the release of Charles Salvador.

“Under current legislation, Mr Salvador will be eligible for a further review within two years. The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.”

Charities benefit from Tinder date that went wrong

Liam Smith standing in front of the now-mended windowImage copyright Liam Smith
Image caption Liam said it was amazing to have had an impact in the developing world

Remember the story about the Tinder date that went horribly wrong and ended up with a woman stuck in a window? Well it now has a happier ending.

Liam Smith’s date got stuck in between two window panes, trying to retrieve faeces that just would not flush.

She was eventually rescued by the local fire service, who had to break the window to set her free.

After the date, Liam set up a Gofundme page to raise some money to help pay for the repairs to his broken window.

Unsurprisingly, the story gained a lot of interest on social media and #poodate started to trend on Twitter as people began making donations.

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Liam’s goal had been to raise £200 to fix the window, but after two months he raised £2,800 and promised to give any excess to charity.

Fittingly, the charities Liam has selected are Toilet Twinning and the Fire Fighters Charity.

Lorraine Kingsley, the chief executive of water and sanitation initiative Toilet Twinning said she understood the date had been a “difficult experience” but Liam’s decision to crowdfund had been a public-relations gift that had raised the charity’s profile across the world and enabled 20 households in Malawi to have a life-changing lavatory. “So we are extremely grateful to him.”

Image copyright Toilet Twinning
Image caption Were these villagers told how the money was raised?

One of the projects, in Rumphi, helps local people build proper lavatories and learn about hygiene and hand washing.

As for the Fire Fighters Charity, its chief executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey, told the BBC they were grateful “whatever the circumstances” in which the money had been raised.

The charity helps provide life-enhancing services to firefighters recovering from injury, illness or psychological trauma.

Liam is equally delighted to have made a difference.

“It’s great to hear about the impact the donations have had for people living in Malawi, as well as from the Fire Fighters Charity about the positive impact the donations have had for their work here in the UK,” he said.

Ever the gentleman, Liam has still not revealed the name of his date, but has said they have remained friends.

Interviews by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social News team

Plans for a Bradford BID take a step forward

PLANS for a Business Improvement District in Bradford have taken a stride forward.

The results of a study into the scheme, designed to improve the city centre, were revealed at the Alhambra Theatre by Ian Ward, Chair of the Bradford BID Development Group, this afternoon. 

A BID is a defined area within a city where a levy – typically one to 1.5 per cent – is charged on all business rate payers over and above their normal business rates.

The levy is then used to develop projects or services which benefit the businesses in that area. Other BID areas have used the money to tidy up empty premises, make it easier for visitors to find their way around, provide extra security such as cracking down on anti-social behaviour and street drinking, and organise festivals.

The survey found that 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of the BID concept being tested by ballot, while 22 per cent were undecided and 8 per cent were against the idea.

Following analysis of survey returns, it is recommended that Bradford now moves towards detailed consultation and the production of a draft BID business plan.

It is anticipated that a ballot would take place in Autumn 2018 and, subject to a positive vote, the BID would operate from December 2018.

An initial BID boundary has been proposed, along with a 1.25 per cent BID levy, which would lead to 585 eligible business premises being part of the improvement district.

This would result in an annual BID levy income of nearly £420,000, which would amount to more than £2 million over the course of the fiveyear BID term.

Further “extensive” consultation will now be carried out around the outline proposals.

BIDs have been established in more than 270 cities, towns and districts across the UK, including in Keighley, Otley, Halifax, Leeds and Wakefield.

Please don’t pet!

Carol Willacy with her dogs, Charlie and BillyImage copyright Carol Willacy
Image caption Carol Willacy says even working dogs like Charlie, left, get “horrendous” attention from strangers

“I’m working” or “do not disturb” are messages usually worn by a guide or assistant dog.

Charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People says petting a working dog risks “distracting the dog from its work” and “could put its owner at risk of danger”.

But some pet owners are also saying they don’t like strangers stroking their non-working dog.

Contact can also be a problem for owners of shy dogs, deaf dogs, and puppies prone to bite or growl. Here are why some people are saying: “Please don’t pet my dog.”

1) ‘My dog’s deaf’

Image copyright Debra Dorrans

Debra Dorrans’ black Labrador-Staffie Benny is 14 and has lost his hearing – so she worries “he might get a fright” if people come up to him and stroke him.

She also recently adopted seven-year-old Sam, a white Westie who gets nervous around other dogs and children.

“I have heard of dogs biting children that have then had to be put down,” she says.

“I’ve never been in that position, but I’m always aware.”

Debra, a retired nurse, is one of 12,000 members of Facebook group Reactive Dogs, which brings together owners of dogs who show excessive fear or aggression around strangers.

“I always put my dogs first,” says Debra.

“I don’t want them to get into any trouble or bite someone.”

She says she’s not afraid to say no to people who want to pet her dogs, but warns that “you have to keep your wits about you”.

“One day a small child ran up to Benny and wrapped his arms around him. I told the parents they shouldn’t do that, but they didn’t really seem to understand.”

2) ‘Quite alarming’

Image copyright Dale McLelland

“I’m not embarrassed to say to someone – please don’t pet my dog,” says Dale McLelland, from Ayrshire, owner of two-year-old Hattie.

She says people “absolutely make a beeline” for the Old English Sheepdog.

“It’s hairy dog syndrome. She looks so cute.”

But she explains it can be “quite alarming for her” if too many people approach Hattie during her walks.

Dale, who has worked as a dog behaviourist for 10 years, says dogs can find strangers’ hugging and petting intrusive.

“Can you imagine if you were on a train and every second person came over and touched you, how uncomfortable that would make you feel?”

Dog person? The correct way to pet a stranger’s pooch

  1. Never leave your child alone with a stranger’s dog
  2. And don’t approach a dog without an owner around
  3. Only stroke the a dog if the owner says “yes you can”
  4. Get the dog to sniff your hand first, then stroke gently
  5. If a strange dog approaches you – stand still, look away and cross your arms

Source: Dogs Trust

Dale avoids busy places, and volunteers for Yellow Dog, a US-based project which advocates putting a yellow ribbon on a dog to show that they need space.

“The problem is, not many people know what the ribbon means – and those that do are normally clued up”.

She adds: “I had Rottweilers for 20 years – and only people who probably knew the breed came over and touched them.”

3) ‘My dog IS working’

Image copyright Carol Willacy

But even working dogs get disturbed, according to those who rely on them.

Carol Willacy says her assistance dog Charlie, a golden Labrador, is “my life, everything” – but that the attention he gets from strangers can be “horrendous”.

She says about 50 people will approach her on a trip to the supermarket, even if he is wearing his harness.

“The ‘do not distract’ message doesn’t make a difference,” she says.

“There’s a saying at least half of people come out with, ‘I know I’m not supposed to touch your dog, but…'”

Carol, 48, suffered a spinal injury as a teenager and also has stereotypic movement disorder (SMD), meaning she uses a wheelchair and had to give up her job as a pharmaceuticals account manager.

Three-year-old Charlie helps Carol by passing her things and, crucially, detects and warns her if she is unwell.

“If your dog is going to tell you you’re not feeling well, you want that dog to be focused and not stroked and stopped,” she says.

“My previous assistance dog was a little Jack Russell and we had the same problem. He had to retire as he got grumpy with people,” she says.

4) ‘I’m training my puppy’

Image copyright Luke Balsam

Dog trainer Luke Balsam, who runs a school in London, says puppies in particular should be left alone – as they are still getting used to walks and being around strangers.

“People are drawn to puppies,” says Luke, who owns a Cocker Spaniel, Indie.

“But some don’t think it’s necessary to ask the owner’s permission.”

In London, where lots of people live in flats and might not own a pet, seeing dogs on the Tube or in cafes can be a novelty.

Luke says public-shy owners should go “off the beaten track”, like a wooded area, until they have trained a puppy or dog to walk around in busy places.

But he says anyone worried their dog might bite or nip a person should use a muzzle.

“It’s definitely recommended,” he says.

“The muzzle should be an essential part of training your dog, and they can be taught to enjoy wearing it.”

Have you said “don’t pet my dog” to a stranger? Or do you like it when people want to pet your dog? You can share your experience by emailing .

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Irish PM should know better over Brexit, says Arlene Foster

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Media captionDUP leader attacks EU over Brexit talks

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar “should know better” than to “play around” with Northern Ireland over Brexit, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party says.

Arlene Foster accused Mr Varadkar of being “reckless” as Brexit talks enter a “critical phase”.

She was speaking after meeting Theresa May at Downing Street.

The Irish government says any hard border with Northern Ireland should be off the table.

And an EU paper recently suggested Northern Ireland would have to continue to follow many EU rules after Brexit if a hard border was to be avoided. It hinted Northern Ireland may need to stay in the EU customs union if there were to be no checks at the border.

That is something which the UK Conservative government – which is supported in key votes by the DUP at Westminster – have said they cannot accept as it would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Speaking to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mrs Foster said: “Some people are taking their moment in the sun, to try and get the maximum in relation to the negotiations – and I understand that but you shouldn’t play about with Northern Ireland particularly at a time when we’re trying to bring about devolved government again.”

She said that suggesting leaving the EU would jeopardise the peace process was “a very careless thing to say”, particularly with no devolved administration in place, and accused Ireland’s government of being “reckless”.

Mrs Foster said she recognised Brexit was a “big shock” for the Republic of Ireland – “and they are trying to process all of that”.

“But they certainly shouldn’t be using Northern Ireland to get the maximum deal for their citizens.”

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that will share a land border with an EU state post-Brexit, and what happens to the border is one of the key subjects being debated between the EU and the UK.

Key to this is how to avoid customs checks on the border when the UK leaves the EU’s customs union – the arrangement that allows goods to flow freely between member states.

Negotiations have yet to make a breakthrough so the EU says talks on future matters like trade and customs cannot begin yet.

But Mrs Foster said it was crucial to move on to the second phase now because the trade arrangement is linked to the border situation.

Sinn Féin ‘glorifying murder’, says DUP’s Foster

DUP leader Arlene FosterImage copyright Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Image caption DUP leader Arlene Foster said remarks made about IRA terrorism at Sinn Fein’s annual gathering were ‘quite disgraceful’

Sinn Féin must stop glorifying the murders of innocent people, the Democratic Unionist Party has said.

Speaking after meeting Theresa May in Downing Street, DUP leader Arlene Foster said remarks made about IRA terrorism at Sinn Féin’s annual gathering were “quite disgraceful”.

She said the DUP would continue to work towards the restoration of devolution.

Sinn Féin’s leader Gerry Adams rejected Mrs Foster’s allegations, saying they were an excuse not to strike a deal.

The departing Sinn Féin president has also held talks with the prime minister in Downing Street, accompanied by the party’s leader north of the border, Michelle O’Neill, and its vice president, Mary-Lou McDonald.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved administration since January, when the governing parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin – split in a bitter row over a botched green energy scheme.

Leaders from both parties are in London on Tuesday for talks with the prime minister.

Eulogising murder?

At the Sinn Féin gathering (Ard Fheis) in Dublin at the weekend, tributes were paid to the late Martin McGuinness.

One of the loudest cheers of the conference came when delegates were told that the former Stormont deputy first minister had been a “proud member of the IRA”.

Mrs Foster said she had told Mrs May the glorification of terrorism made the restoration of power sharing in Northern Ireland more difficult.

She said the DUP was talking about a deal to restore power sharing that both unionism and nationalism could live with, but she accused Sinn Féin of only being concerned with nationalism.

She also criticised calls from Sinn Féin for more direct involvement by both the London and Dublin governments over the political stalemate at Stormont – saying the internal governance of Northern Ireland was a matter for the UK government.

Analysis: Gareth Gordon, BBC News NI political correspondent

Talking to the prime minster is nothing new for the DUP: Her government relies on the votes of its 10 MPs to remain in power.

In the absence of a deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the DUP says direct rule ministers should be appointed by Westminster.

Sinn Féin says that’s a non-starter; it wants the UK and Irish governments to jointly deliver the introduction of same-sex marriage and an Irish Language Act.

The party has been unable to agree these in 10 months of talks with the DUP.

Theresa May is well aware of the arguments – which won’t make deciding what to do any easier.

Mr Adams said a new section had been added to the Stormont House bill about “amnesty for British crown forces”, without consultation with Sinn Féin or the Irish government.

The Sinn Féin delegation had been expected to tell Theresa May that instead of direct rule, the British and Irish governments should deliver on equality issues like same-sex marriage and an Irish Language Act.

But DUP MP Nigel Dodds was scathing about Sinn Féin’s complaints about equal rights.

“When Sinn Féin… lectures everybody about rights, remember that the greatest right of all is the right to life,” said Mr Dodds, who met the prime minister with Mrs Foster.

“It is not just that Sinn Féin have supported IRA terrorism in the past, and the murder of innocent people, but even at the weekend they were continuing to eulogise and glorify the murder of innocent people.

“In a rights-based society, that has got to stop,” he added.

Adams’ departure

Sinn Féin has called for a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to be convened to consider a way forward, but Mrs Foster described that body as a “talking shop which has not met since 2007”.

She has said Northern Ireland must not be used as a pawn in ongoing Brexit negotiations, accusing some in Dublin and Brussels of trying to recklessly use Northern Ireland for their own objectives.

The parties continued failure to establish an executive means public services are starting to run out of money, so Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire decided earlier this month to implement a budget for the region.

Sinn Féin said the confidence and supply arrangement between the DUP and the Conservative Party had “compounded” the problems the parties faced.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Michelle O’Neill and Gerry Adams are expected to press the government on same-sex marriage and an Irish language act

Mrs May made the £1bn deal with the DUP after losing her majority in Parliament in June’s general election.

One of the key issues on the agenda for both DUP and Sinn Féin meetings with Mrs May was the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU – in which Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland remains a key sticking point.

On Monday night, the prime minster held a meeting with her “inner cabinet”, after which it is understood there was broad agreement that the government should increase its financial offer to the EU as the UK leaves.

The meeting was held to try to make progress on stalled Brexit talks.

Mr Adams brought his party’s ard fhéis (annual conference) to a dramatic closure on Saturday with the news that he would not stand again as Sinn Féin president – after 34 years in charge.