Claims on NI power-sharing talks progress ‘entirely misleading’

Irish Times Inside Politics podcast: Tories, FG not really invested in process - Gerry Adams

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, Sinn Féin president Gerry  Adams accused the British and Irish governments of a lack of commitment to securing an agreement to re-establishing the Northern Executive. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams accused the British and Irish governments of a lack of commitment to securing an agreement to re-establishing the Northern Executive. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

 

Claims by the British and Irish governments that talks on the restoration of the Stormont power-sharing administration are progressing well are “entirely misleading”, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said.

Northern Secretary James Brokenshire told the House of Commons on Wednesday the talks at Stormont were making progress, but needed to “continue with urgency”.

Senior Sinn Féin sources were privately much more downbeat about the prospects for a resumption of the power-sharing government.

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, Mr Adams accused the two governments of a lack of commitment to securing an agreement to re-establishing the Northern Executive. Mr Adams said the Tories in London and Fine Gael had no real investment in the process.

“The responsibility of the Irish Government and particularly of the Taoiseach is to keep the British government honest,” Mr Adams said.

British attitudes to Brexit, and to removing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights, could “destroy the Good Friday Agreement”, he said.

Mr Adams said he had had several “businesslike, friendly engagements” with DUP leader Arlene Foster since the talks began, and he had “no reason to doubt” she was innocent of accusations over the “cash for ash” Renewable Heat Initiative which precipitated this month’s Northern Assembly election.

‘Properly scrutinised’

However, the affair needed to be “properly scrutinised”.

Sinn Féin has said it will block Ms Foster’s nomination as First Minister, preventing the formation of a new Executive.

However, Mr Adams said the issue of Sinn Féin blocking Ms Foster’s nomination would not arise until after an agreement to resuscitate the Executive was reached. At present, there was no sign of such an agreement, he indicated.

Mr Adams said the Irish Government had to be part of the effort to persuade unionists to join a united Ireland. “A section of unionism is unlikely to move while the British government underpins their position, and the Irish Government has to tackle that.”

Taking Northern Ireland questions at Westminster, Mr Brokenshire said progress had been made in the post-election Stormont talks, but this needed to “continue with urgency to achieve a positive outcome”.

‘Key priority’

Asked about the financial risks for the North if no executive can be formed, he described getting a budget in place as “a key priority”.

On the possibility of direct rule from London, Mr Brokenshire told the House of Commons that “devolved government is the only thing that I am working towards, recognising that that is what the people of Northern Ireland voted for”.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP said his party was “absolutely and totally committed” to getting devolution back up and running.

“We did not tear down the institutions, we did not create the present crisis, others walked away, we are determined to restore it as quickly as possible,” he said.