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Anger as DUP and Sinn Féin play blame game in Stormont stalemate

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DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks to the media as she unveils a banner saying 'Sinn Fein - End Your Boycott' outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. Photo: PA

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks to the media as she unveils a banner saying 'Sinn Fein - End Your Boycott' outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. Photo: PA

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks to the media as she unveils a banner saying 'Sinn Fein - End Your Boycott' outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. Photo: PA

Northern Ireland's two largest parties once again blamed each other for Stormont's power-sharing impasse as the region passed an unwelcome milestone for non-governance.

Yesterday marked 589 days since the DUP and Sinn Féin-led power-sharing executive collapsed - passing Belgium for the world's longest peacetime period without a properly functioning government.

While Northern Ireland will avoid an embarrassing entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as it only relates to a devolved administration, angry members of the public protested to mark the day.

The DUP marked the milestone by unfurling a banner outside Stormont calling on Sinn Féin to end its "boycott" on governing.

Party leader Arlene Foster said she shared the frustration of the wider public. "There is only one problem party and let's call it out - that's Sinn Féin," she said. "And it needs to end its boycott here in Northern Ireland.

"I share the frustrations of many today that we don't have a government here taking decisions on education and on health, on infrastructure and on the future of this country itself. So it's time to get back into government - long past the time to get back into government."

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said the party was dedicated to getting institutions up and running on a "proper basis".

The republican party has accused the DUP of blocking "rights-based" concessions, such as protections for Irish language speakers, the introduction of same-sex marriage and the release of additional funds for historic inquests on killings carried out by the security forces.

"Those rights issues will continue to have to be addressed, they are still here, they are still part of the reason why this institution collapsed, they are going to have to be addressed," he said.

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