Foster to ask if Sinn Féin serious about making Stormont work

Adams insists SF has ‘repeatedly demonstrated commitment to political institutions’

The DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to make a speech on Thursday evening recommitting her party to powersharing. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

The DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to make a speech on Thursday evening recommitting her party to powersharing. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

 

The DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to make a speech on Thursday evening recommitting her party to powersharing but questioning whether Sinn Féin is prepared to allow Stormont to function properly.

As the British and Irish governments assess whether resumed talks have any prospect of success Ms Foster will deliver a speech in Belfast outlining her party’s approach to the negotiations.

Ms Foster is also expected to warn that after nine months of failed attempts to reinstate the Northern Executive and Assembly that the current deadlock cannot be permitted to continue much longer.

Already some senior members of her party such as East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson have said the talks have little chance of succeeding and that it is time to introduce direct rule from Westminster.

“I’ve heard it said that the unprecedented position that the DUP now finds itself in at Westminster means that we don’t want or need a return of devolution,” Ms Foster will say in her speech.

“While the new parliamentary arithmetic delivers a measure of influence, it does not change our fundamental belief in Northern Ireland shaping its own destiny,” she will add.

The extracts from the speech released by the DUP also contain criticism of Sinn Féin.

“As we all know, Sinn Féin has built a barrier to the return of Stormont,” Ms Foster is due to say.

“I question whether Sinn Féin is serious about wanting to see an early return to Stormont.”

Speaking ahead of the relase of the extracts, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said his party had “repeatedly demonstrated our commitment to the political institutions” while adding, “Sinn Féin’s entire political strategy is vested in workable Good Friday agreement institutions that are delivering for citizens.”

Talks are scheduled to resume next week but over recent days the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Northern Secretary James Brokenshire have been attempting to gauge whether the DUP and Sinn Féin are willing to make the necessary compromises to get the Northern Executive and Assembly back up and running.

Previous attempts this year to restore Stormont became deadlocked primarily over a proposed Irish Language Act and other issues such as same sex marriage and how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The DUP has argued that the Irish language could be addressed in the context of composite “cultural” legislation that also would address matters such as Ulster Scots and supporting bodies such as the Orange Order.

On Wednesday Mr Adams in Belfast repeated that without a standalone Irish language act there would be no prospect of the Executive and Assembly returning.