Deal to restore North powersharing unlikely by Monday, says Adams

Sinn Féin leader claims DUP showing no urgency in dealing with issues

Negotiations to salvage powersharing in Northern Ireland continue as parties mount a last-ditch effort to strike a deal.

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he does not believe there will be a deal done with the DUP to restore powersharing government in the North by Monday.

Speaking to reporters during a March for Marriage event in Belfast on Saturday – where thousands of men, women and children were calling for civil marriage equality for the LBGT community – Mr Adams told reporters there was no sense of urgency from the DUP to do a deal.

Northern Ireland parties have been engaged in talks with the British and Irish government at Stormont Castle but the Thursday deadline to get a deal was missed as there is deadlock between the DUP and Sinn Féin over a number of issues.

Northern Secretary James Brokenshire is to make a statement in the House of Commons on Monday. Government sources said Northern Ireland had entered the “reasonable period” and the only legal option to Mr Brokenshire was to call an election, and that anything else, including the Assembly coming back would require legislation in parliament.

Mr Adams made it clear on Saturday that his party would not accept a return to direct rule from London.

“There is clearly a responsibility on the Irish Government to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said.

It is not clear if any negotiations took place at Stormont Castle on Saturday and the DUP does not traditionally negotiate on a Sunday, as it observes this as a day of rest.

Mr Adams said “equality, rights and respect are the only basis for sustainable institutions” and said “it is very unlikely that there will be an agreement by Monday”.

“The DUP are showing no urgency about dealing with the equality and rights issues, which caused the collapse of the political institutions. There is little prospect that they will do this before Monday.”

Mr Adams said the parties had not been able to reach agreement on an Irish language Act (Acht na Gaeilge), a Bill of Rights, marriage equality, respect, anti-sectarian measures or legacy issues.

“Equality, rights and respect are the only basis for sustainable institutions,” he added. “This will only be achieved if there is a step change in the DUP position. “Sinn Féin will do business with them in that context but a starting point for all the parties and especially the DUP has to be that there can be no return to the status quo.

“The institutions have to deliver for all citizens.”

Attitude

Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O’Neill said people, including the thousands of LGBT activists on the streets of Belfast for Saturday’s parade, “want their rights delivered”.

She also spoke of the DUP having no sense of urgency to do a deal. “We remain ready, willing, wanting to engage but they need to come at it with that attitude also,” she said.

Earlier, British prime minister Theresa May released a statement calling on the two parties to reach an agreement.

Ms May spoke to Ms O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster on Friday, as Sinn Féin urged her and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene in the Stormont talks.