Sunday 24 September 2017

Adams: James Brokenshire and Arlene Foster part of the problem at Stormont

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and North leader Michelle O’Neill, left, hold a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Belfast after it increased its vote significantly in the Assembly election.Photo: Getty
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and North leader Michelle O’Neill, left, hold a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Belfast after it increased its vote significantly in the Assembly election.Photo: Getty

Deborah McAleese

Prime Minister Theresa May and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire are "part of the problem" at Stormont, Gerry Adams has said.

As Northern Ireland's main political parties prepare to enter discussions in a bid to restore powersharing, the Sinn Fein leader accused the UK Government of breaking past agreements aimed at stabilising the Stormont institutions.

He also said Sinn Fein has no confidence in Mr Brokenshire to chair post-election negotiations between the parties.

Mr Brokenshire is due to meet Stormont party leaders in an attempt to persuade them to form a new powersharing executive.

It follows Thursday's election which ended a unionist majority at Stormont.

Mr Brokenshire has said the primary responsibility lies with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein to use the "limited window" now open.

But Mr Adams said: "The approach of this Secretary of State, like his predecessors, and of the British Government's general approach, illustrates perfectly that they are part of the problem.

"Without fundamental change on their part there cannot be the type of progress that people want.

"We are very clear about our view that if recent statements by James Brokenshire and Theresa May are to be taken at face value then the British Government is going to make all the mistakes that it made in the past."

Mr Adams accused the British Government of breaking previous agreements to do with issues such as legacy and an Irish language act and said it has "sought special deals for their own Armed Forces".

Michelle O'Neill, who has replaced Martin McGuinness as leader of Sinn Fein in the north, said it is "not groundhog day" or "business as usual".

She added: "People want equality for all, they want respect in the institutions, for republicanism."

She also said the party will not be dissuaded from its position that DUP leader Arlene Foster cannot be first minister until clarity is provided around her involvement in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal that led to Stormont's collapse in January.

The SDLP has also said it will not support Mrs Foster in the top post until a report is received from the inquiry team set up to probe the scandal.

Mrs Foster set up the botched energy scheme, which could cost the Northern Ireland tax payer £490 million.

Her refusal to stand aside during the inquiry was the catalyst for Mr McGuinness's resignation as deputy first minister in January, triggering the collapse of the DUP and Sinn Fein-led coalition government and forcing a snap election.

Mr McGuinness has been suffering from ill health and Mr Adams said he wants to send his best wishes to the former deputy first minister, his wife and family.

He added that the McGuinness family had requested privacy and that should be respected.

Press Association

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