Simon Coveney Image copyright PA
Image caption Simon Coveney said NI politicians need to ‘step up and fully represent their citizens’

The British and Irish governments have published the text of a draft deal aimed at restoring power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Julian Smith and Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney made the announcement at a press conference at Stormont on Thursday evening.

Thursday marks three years exactly since devolution collapsed in Northern Ireland.

If agreed, the deal, entitled New Decade, New Approach, will see the assembly reconvene on Friday.

Mr Smith, who has written to the assembly speaker asking him to convene a sitting on Friday, said the deal will transform public services and restore public confidence in devolved government.

He asked all parties to support it, saying: “Now is decision time, there is something in this deal for everyone.”

The secretary of state said accepting the deal would also bring about the parties’ commitment to immediately ending ongoing industrial action by healthcare staff.

“It includes pay parity, a new action plan on waiting times and delivering much needed reforms on health and social care,” he said.

Health workers across Northern Ireland have been staging industrial action in protest against pay and staffing levels which they say are “unsafe”.

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Media captionThe British and Irish governments have published the text of a draft deal aimed at restoring Stormont.

Mr Smith said the deal was “fair and balanced” and that it “will ensure key decisions about peoples’ lives can be made”.

Mr Coveney said the path that led to this point had taken longer than many people thought.

He said it was “based on the extensive discussions and collective work undertaken by the parties since May last year, following the awful murder of Lyra McKee” and added: “Forget win or lose… this is a deal full of compromises.”

He also said the politicians need to “step up and fully represent their citizens”.

“There is no need, and no public patience, for more process and more discussions. It is time for political leadership and a collective commitment to making politics work for people.”

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