Gerry Adams accuses Taoiseach of being ‘reckless’ on North
Sinn Féin leader takes issue with claims that Michelle O’Neill was ready to do a deal with DUP
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams said Leo Varadkar was “a Taoiseach, not just a Fine Gael leader. He needs to behave like a Taoiseach”. Photograph; Dara Mac Donaill
Mr Adams also described some of the contents of report in the The Irish Times this week as “malicious, shameful, and untruthful”.
The Irish Times reported that the Government believes Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland, was ready to deal with the Democratic Unionist Party but was blocked by senior party figures.
Informed sources said the belief in Dublin, which they said was shared by Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, is that Ms O’Neill was ready to do a deal but others in the party decided against doing so.
The belief is that Ms O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster were ready to do a deal on legislation for the Irish language, the key issue blocking a political deal to restore the executive now dormant since January.
It was suggested that figures on Sinn Féin’s executive board, the ard chomhairle, which includes Gerry Adams, had a differing view to Ms O’Neill.
Mr Adams said such claims were “shameful and untruthful allegations made by government sources about our leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill”.
Government sources in Dublin are standing over such an understanding of events, however. Mr Adams released a statement and video yesterday to challenge what he described as the “malicious, shameful, untruthful briefing of the media”.
The Louth TD said there is a “threat by the British government to bring back direct rule which never worked at any time on this island”.
“The Taoiseach, faced with this, is sleepwalking into a deepening crisis in Anglo-Irish relationships if he allows this to happen and that is on top of the difficulties caused by Brexit. So I am very, very concerned he’s not as focussed as he should be on these matters and on his responsibilities.
“The Taoiseach in my view in what he has said and by these briefings is behaving in a reckless way. He should stop it and she should behave as a Taoiseach should behave. Of course score points on Sinn Féin, that’s part of the business.
“But in terms of getting the institutions back in place, fulfil his responsibilities, his obligations and his duty to the people of the entire island. He’s a Taoiseach, not just a Fine Gael leader. He needs to behave like a Taoiseach.”
As a result of the impasse, James Brokenshire told Westminster MPs this week that Northern Ireland is on a “glide path” towards direct rule.
Speaking at Westminster on Wednesday, the Northern Ireland Secretary played down the prospects of a deal to restore the executive.
“If I had given evidence to this committee last week I might have indicated some momentum, more progress. That progress stalled at the end of last week,” he said.
Mr Brokenshire said the two parties would have to reach agreement by October 30th for legislation at Westminster to allow a new executive to be formed in the week beginning November 6th. If they fail to meet the deadline, the British government will legislate to set a budget for Northern Ireland. Mr Brokenshire said that setting a budget for the North did not amount to direct rule but it could be the first step towards more intervention.