LONDON - The United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, will visit Northern Ireland on Monday to meet leaders of the newly formed executive following a breakthrough that has ended years of political paralysis. But his trip comes as a new report warns that complications over implementing Johnson’s Brexit plan in Northern Ireland could see the UK government taken to the European Court of Justice. Northern Ireland’s main parties on Saturday formed a power-sharing government, ending a three-year standoff that threatened a key part of the region’s 1998 peace settlement. Johnson will press public service reform on his visit, having promised a huge cash injection to help Northern Ireland fund services if it could get its devolved administration, known as the Assembly, up and running again. “This is an historic time for the people of Northern Ireland,” Johnson said in a statement before his visit. “The next decade will be an incredible time of opportunity for Northern Ireland and the whole of the United Kingdom as we come together to unleash the potential of our four nations,” he added. But a new computer system to handle the special arrangements necessary for post-Brexit trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, cannot possibly be delivered by the end of the year - and that is just one of several obstacles to “completing Brexit” this year, the Institute for Government (IFG) think tank has warned. Similar systems would be expected to take up to five years to design and implement, the IfG cited a former head of the UK’s tax collection agency as saying.

Australian‘megablaze’ brought under control

SYDNEY - Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia’s largest “megablaze” under control Monday, as wet weather promised to deliver much-needed respite for countryside ravaged by bushfires. New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, which has been burning for almost three months. Visiting the area on Monday, New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was a “small area of burning still to complete” but the “containment prognosis looks promising”. The fire seared an area of national park three times the size of Greater London and lit several connected blazes totalling over 800,000 hectares. As residents and authorities continued to come to grips with the sheer scale of the devastation, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast some firegrounds areas could get up to 50 millimetres (two inches) of rain in the next week, a relief after a prolonged drought.

If that forecast bears out, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said it would be “all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed.”