May urges Northern Ireland to form a government and engage in Brexit process

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament as she announces that she has sent the letter to trigger the process of leaving the European Union in London, March 29, 2017. Parliament TV handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May called on the rival political parties in Northern Ireland to come together and form a regional government so their voice can be heard in Brexit negotiations.

Northern Ireland politics has been in crisis since Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein pulled out of government in January, sparking a March 2 election that ended the majority that pro-British unionists had enjoyed in the province for almost a century.

Northern Ireland voted 56 to 44 percent to remain in the European Union in last June’s referendum but the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave.

“The best result to ensure the voice of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland can be heard within these negotiations is for the parties to come together and for us to see that strong and devolved government which will provide us with that interlocutor,” May told parliament after she triggered the formal Brexit process.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison