Adams denies DUP ‘lies’ about SF commitment to powersharing

Sinn Féin president says opponents, including Fianna Fáil, are making false claims

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has accused the DUP and Fianna Fáil of falsely claiming his party is not committed to restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on Sunday at a commemoration in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast to mark the centenary of the death of hunger striker Tómas Ashe, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin is “fully committed to the powersharing institutions and we are working to restore them”.

Mr Adams reiterated the Sinn Féin position that the political institutions “can only work if they are based on equality, respect and integrity”.

“Our opponents, including elements in the DUP, the Fianna Fáil leadership and others claim Sinn Féin is no longer interested in the Assembly,” he said.

“They know this is a lie.”

He said: “The DUP leadership in particular know this. They also know the conditions that are required for sustainable institutions to deliver for all our people on education, health, housing and anti-poverty needs as well as the necessary work of reconciliation.”

In a challenge to the developing narrative that Sinn Féin is not committed to powersharing in the North, Mr Adams said he was making it clear to everyone, including republican grassroots, that his party leadership “is up for doing a deal with the DUP and the other parties, and of moving back into the Executive on that basis”.

“Let the DUP and the two governments also be in no doubt,” he added.

“No policy can be sustained without the informed consent of citizens.”

‘Change of tone’

In response, DUP MLA Simon Hamilton said: “Northern Ireland government has been held to ransom by Sinn Féin since March for narrow political reasons.”

However, he added, “Gerry Adams’ change of tone is a step forward. The DUP has had no preconditions and stands ready to reestablish an executive immediately. Whilst language and culture are important so too are decisions on health, education and infrastructure.

“We made a reasonable offer which would have seen government restored and negotiations on cultural matters take place in parallel. Disappointingly Sinn Féin rejected this offer within 90 minutes.

“We will be engaging with SF this week. We want to see government restored. We want to see culture and language matters fairly addressed. We will not accept cultural supremacy for one section of our community. There is enough space in Northern Ireland for mutual respect and a shared future.”

At another commemoration event in Strabane, Co Tyrone, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald also set out the party’s commitment to Stormont.

The Dublin Central TD said: “Unionism and the British government must end their policy of prevarication, of inequality and the denial of rights. They must honour previous agreements.”

A Irish language act, same sex marriage equality, a Bill of rights and funding of conflict legacy inquests are among the stumbling blocks to progress between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Several deadlines for a deal have been missed since Stormont collapsed in January.

There is no new fixed deadline for a deal, however, observers are looking to October and November as a time when there will have to be movement over budgetary matters if there is no government in place.

Bilateral talks between the five main parties, rather than multiparty talks with the British and Irish governments, which the SDLP and others have called for, will resume again at Stormont on Monday.

Florence speech

In a speech in Florence on Friday British prime minister Theresa May said her government would not accept any physical infrastructure on the Irish Border post-Brexit but the anticipated solution to this matter was not forthcoming.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes told the BBC Sunday Politics programme the speech was “minimal” and that much more was needed from the UK to progress negotiations.

He said if there was an option for a new customs union for the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, the Irish Government should be open to that.

“Rather than politicians using this Brexit for the worst possible outcomes, such as Sinn Féin and others North and South what they are trying to do, we should work together,” he said.

He believes not only should the British and Irish governments work on this but also an Assembly in the North.

“It will make no sense for the people of Northern Ireland that their political leaders are basically not going to be forming a government when this crucial issue has to be determined.”

UUP MEP Jim Nicholson characterised Ms May’s speech as positive, saying she “took the cheque book out of the handbag but she hasn’t signed on the cheque”.

He also said without the restoration of Stormont Northern Ireland was missing out on important representation in Brexit talks.

“If we are not going to have an Executive then the Secretary of State is going to have to step up to the plate and represent Northern Ireland. There is nobody else to do it,” he said.