McGuinness confident NI multi-party talks to start next week

Tánaiste Joan Burton says Sinn Féin are ‘seeking to hijack the history of the country’

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness speaking at a refugee crisis event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast,   September 17th, 2015. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness speaking at a refugee crisis event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast, September 17th, 2015. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

 

Martin McGuinness has said he is confident multi-party talks will start in Northern Ireland next week to solve the ongoing political crisis threatening devolved government.

The Deputy First Minister was speaking at a Sinn Féin event in Stormont where he was addressing the refugee crisis unfolding in Hungary.

Mr McGuinness described himself as an optimist and said he believes the parties can solve Stormont’s problems and get the Executive back working again normally, following First Minister Peter Robinson stepping aside and withdrawing all but one DUP minister, Arlene Foster.

Mr Robinson also said he was optimistic multiparty talks can begin early next week.

On Thursday, DUP MLA Simon Hamilton reiterated the party’s commitment to ensure it cannot be “business as usual” at Stormont following the murder of Kevin McGuigan in east Belfast last month.

The former minister for health, who on Wednesday was reappointed and then resigned again as part of the DUP’s response to the police assessment of the status of the IRA, stressed this did not mean no business could be carried out.

“Those who are currently criticising the party are responsible for the waste of £10 million [€13.7 million] every month because of their failure to implement the Stormont House Agreement,” he added. “Over the last few days I have listened to various politicians attack the DUP for resigning our ministerial positions.

“While some parties may be perfectly satisfied to carry on with business as usual while a man has been murdered and the Chief Constable has blamed the Provisional IRA, the DUP isn’t,” he continued.

“Not doing business as usual doesn’t mean not doing business. The DUP has made it perfectly clear that we will still take decisions that benefit the people of Northern Ireland - and that’s what I and colleagues will do.”

Meanwhile, in Cork on Thursday night, Tánaiste Joan Burton said Sinn Féin are “seeking to hijack the history of the country so as to explain away the IRA’s campaign of sectarian violence and the subsequent criminality it spawned.

“The Government has made great efforts to ensure that the commemorations sponsored by the State are as inclusive as possible. The fact that Sinn Fein is choosing to mount its own particular commemorative events is a timely reminder of the arcane and mendacious theology of that party.

The Labour leader was speaking at the party’s 1916 Centenary Commemoration Exhibition and claimed that, “frankly, many in Sinn Féin still struggle to accept the legitimacy of the State, while at the same time they tell us that they want to govern it. In fact, many in Sinn Fein can’t even bring themselves to use the name of the State - the Republic of Ireland.

“We should see all of this for what it is. It is part self-delusion and part hypocrisy. And it tells you a great deal about the risk Sinn Fein could pose to this State should they ever get into government.”