Adams not opposed to external mediator in North talks

DUP must embrace rights-based agenda to advance ‘endless talks’, says Sinn Féin leader

Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams and leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill will come to a judgment before November 13th on the DUP’s intentions. File photograph: Peter Morrisson/Reuters

Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams and leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill will come to a judgment before November 13th on the DUP’s intentions. File photograph: Peter Morrisson/Reuters

 

Gerry Adams has said Sinn Féin is the “party of dialogue” but as northern leader Michelle O’Neill has made clear “endless talks without conclusion just aren’t feasible or sustainable”.

Speaking on Saturday at the launch of his new book, Never Give Up, Mr Adams said his party was committed to seeing devolved government in the North but the DUP must embrace a rights-based agenda.

On Friday, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds told BBC Inside Politics, Northern Ireland cannot be allowed to drift and suggested, in the absence of a deal with Sinn Féin, he would like to see ministers in London making decisions “within weeks”, in consultation with Stormont politicians.

Northern Secretary James Brokenshire has said he will introduce a budget at Westminster on November 13th but is prepared to withdraw this if the DUP and Sinn Féin reach agreement before then.

While the DUP and Sinn Féin had signalled their willingness to continue engagement no further formal talks are scheduled at this point. Mr Adams said he had noted Mr Dodds remarks and that coupled with the DUP Westminster manifesto this “gives an insight into their current thinking”.

“I still see no clear evidence of a willingness to embrace the rights agenda in the way that it needs to if the institutions are to serve every single citizen,” he said.

Mr Adams said Stormont could only work if previous agreements were honoured and served all sections of the community in the North.

He and Ms O’Neill will come to a judgment before the 13th on the DUP’s intentions and they will also have to wait to see exactly what Mr Brokenshire intends to do.

On the suggestion from Alliance leader Naomi Long that an external mediator would be helpful he said “it depends on who it is” but his party had “no real issue around that”.

He reiterated Sinn Féin’s position that agreements had been “broken” and any talks with the DUP should be about negotiating the implementation of previous agreements.

“As has been proven in the past outside support is essential and is how we got the Good Friday Agreement over the line in the first instance but it is down to the two governments.”

He said against the background of the DUP propping up Conservative government, which he says is in a precarious position, he also believes it places the DUP in a “strong position”, but one that in his view “isn’t going to last”.

“It will end up in tears eventually as all of their dalliances with the British have done in the past,” he added.

“But in the meantime we would welcome any broad general support, or specific support, for agreements which are at the foundation of this process and which are the only basis for the institutions to work.”

‘New impetus’

At the Alliance Party autumn conference in Derry on Saturday, Ms Long again called for Mr Brokenshire to “reconsider our proposals for an external facilitator to be brought in to give new impetus and focus to the talks”.

“If we want to see devolution restored, then we need a concerted effort involving all of the parties and the two governments, to find a way through this impasse in a way which acknowledges honestly that these disputes are, at their most fundamental, not simply about a language act or an armed forces covenant,” she said.

“They are at their core about demonstrating through words and actions, mutual respect for both British and Irish identity and our commitment to share this space together, in co-operation rather than conflict.”