Dublin — The British government faces a deadline on whether to extend negotiations on Northern Ireland’s political future or renew direct control from London.

Britain’s system of “direct rule” ran from 1972, the deadliest year of Northern Ireland’s conflict, until the Good Friday peace accord of 1998 paved the way for the first of several Catholic-Protestant coalitions in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s latest unity government collapsed in January amid deepening disputes between the British Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Irish Catholics of Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein withdrew Sunday from talks aimed at reviving its partnership with the Democratic Unionists, saying no agreement was in prospect.

Britain’s secretary of state, James Brokenshire, faces a legal deadline of 11 a.m. EDT Monday to announce what happens next.

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