Edwin Poots resigns as DUP leader after three weeks in job

Mary Lou Mc Donald press conference beside Carson's statue on Stormont estate. She is flanked by party colleagues Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy

An October election would have been on the cards had a First Minister and Deputy First Minister not been nominated, but this scenario has now been averted.

At 12:22am on Thursday, Ms McDonald tweeted: "The British Govt has tonight agreed to legislate for Acht Gaeilge".

"We have monumental challenges ahead that will require unity of goal and urgency". Sinn Fein had reportedly demanded a commitment from Poots over a timetable for implementing an Irish language legislation.

McDonald added that the agreement with the United Kingdom government marked a "special moment" for Irish-language speakers.

The development came after a night of intensive talks between Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and DUP and Sinn Féin delegations in Belfast. The pair also drove from Stormont House without speaking to the media.

Mr Poots, who took over as leader from Arlene Foster in May, had narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in a leadership vote.

The joint nature of the office Mrs Foster shared with Ms O'Neill in the latter's first term as deputy First Minister meant Ms O'Neill was automatically removed from the post on Monday and had to be nominated for the role again within those seven days.

He faced severe backlash from party colleagues over his decision to agree a deal with Sinn Féin and nominate Paul Givan as first minister.

Sinn Fein, the largest Irish nationalist party, insist the nomination be accompanied by the implementation of the cultural elements of a political agreement brokered by London and Dublin which restored the executive early last year following three years without a devolved administration.

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