Cabinet briefed on plans for Government deal with DUP

Her party colleague Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who romped home in Lagan Valley, said the DUP was willing to talk with the Conservatives in the event of a hung parliament.

One of British Prime Minister Theresa May's predecessors has warned that her plan to stay in power after losing her parliamentary majority risks the "fragile" peace in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP and UUP were wiped out, the former losing its three House of Commons seats.

The DUP leader declined to give details of what she termed a "positive engagement with the Conservative Party".

He added: 'The danger is that however much any government tries they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal at Westminster with one of the Northern Ireland parties, and you never know in what unpredictable way events will turn out, and we can not know if that impartiality is going to be crucial at some stage in the future'.

"The last thing anybody wishes to see is one or other of the communities so aggrieved that the hard men, who are still there lurking in the corners of the community, decide that they wish to return to some form of violence", he said.

"This election has been fought on the issue of Brexit - people are concerned about it, so people want us to take a stand".

"It is important to distinguish what happens at Westminster and the votes that take place here, and devolution and the obligations and responsibilities that we hold fast to in relation to Northern Ireland", he said.

Major, who helped lay the groundwork for the peace deal during his time in Downing Street, did not mince his words about the possible consequences.

Sinn Fein has also claimed that a Tory-DUP alliance could damage powersharing talks in Northern Ireland, which has been without an executive since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance insist Mr Brokenshire can not chair the efforts to restore powersharing.

"They are obliged to be so in the wording of the Good Friday and other agreements but unless an Irish government is keeping them to that responsibility, they will behave as they have behaved for as long as I have lived and longer than that".

Developments at Westminster have placed another question mark over the already faltering process.

"I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the United Kingdom, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland".

Talks prior to the election being called had failed to reach an agreement.

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