Sunday 30 April 2017

May threw 'grenade' into peace process - Eastwood

Colum Eastwood of the SDLP Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Colum Eastwood of the SDLP Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Noel McAdam

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of throwing a "grenade into the middle" of the peace process by calling a snap election.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mrs May had sacrificed the chance of progress as part of her mission to destroy the Labour Party.

It came as Sinn Féin's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill claimed Mrs May had shown a "blatant disregard" to the people of Northern Ireland.

Yesterday, leaders of the North's five main parties met ahead of a resumption of bilateral meetings to restore devolution.

However, Mr Eastwood said that by calling an election Mrs May had made it "very difficult" to reach a deal by the deadline of early May.

"The British prime minister threw a grenade into the middle of our peace process. She has sacrificed the opportunity for progress," he said.

"That doesn't mean we are walking away, we are still here. We will keep meeting until we can get this power-sharing establishment up and running.

"The British government seems to have walked away from it. They need to get back around the table."

Mrs O'Neill said Mrs May's announcement was about the "Tory party's self-interest".

She added: "She has shown a blatant disregard for the people of the North once again.

"Sinn Féin is ready to fight this election.

"We will go out and engage with the public who voted in the majority to stay in the European Union.

"This election is not about orange and green, it is about Brexit and opposition to the Tory party's policies."

Mrs May's surprise election announcement appeared to have injected some impetus at Stormont, where full round-table meetings had not been expected to begin until next Monday.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the announcement during the discussions was "unfortunate", but insisted his party was ready to form an Executive.

Irish Independent

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