Friday 22 September 2017

Stormont deadlock as SF rejects latest DUP proposals

Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill. Picture: PA
Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill. Picture: PA

Michael McHugh

Sinn Féin has rejected the DUP bid to restore the Assembly and resolve division over cultural issues.

Its leader in the North Michelle O'Neill said establishing a power-sharing administration that may collapse after a matter of months over the same problems would only fail the people.

She claimed DUP leader Arlene Foster's latest proposal to break the political talks stalemate was nothing new and had been made knowing it would be rejected.

The DUP called for a "common sense" solution appointing Stormont ministers alongside a time-limited process for making progress on the red line issue of an Irish language act and Ulster Scots. But Mrs O'Neill said: "This parallel process has been discussed and disregarded throughout the course of all the negotiations we have had to date.

"Establishing an Executive that may collapse after a matter of months on the same issues will only fail all our people.

"Let's agree to quickly conclude talks on implementation and rights, that is the only way to build a sustainable Executive that will last."

Power-sharing has been in deep freeze since early this year when late Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned in protest at the DUP's handling of a botched green energy scheme which risks landing the taxpayer in millions of pounds of debt.

Talks aimed at restoring the institutions are due to resume on Monday led by the British and Irish governments, with prominent DUP MPs warning a return to direct rule from Westminster could be looming.

Sinn Féin claims the DUP has failed to embrace principles like equality and respect. Democratic Unionists argue that any deal should not be one-sided and devolution should be immediately restored.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said Mrs Foster's intervention was a genuine effort to show leadership and reach out towards compromise.

Irish Independent

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