Ulster and British unionist alliances always end in tears, warns Gerry Adams

Foster says result was a great one for the union in North and across United Kingdom

 

History shows that “alliances between Ulster unionism and British unionism have always ended in tears,” Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams has warned, after it emerged the Democratic Unionist Party will support the Conservatives.

Insisting that Sinn Féin’s “big focus” is to get the Stormont institutions up and running, Mr Adams called on Leo Varadkar to “stand up to the challenges as a co-equal guarantor” of the Belfast Agreement.

Sinn Féin will not drop its refusal to sit in the House of Commons, despite the tight result, he said, adding that Sinn Féin is now the only nationalist party in Northern Ireland having taken two of the the SDLP’s three Commons seats with the DUP taking the third.

Sinn Féin’s Northern leader, Michelle O’Neill said unionist parties had received less than 50 per cent of the vote in Thursday’s election, the first time that this has happened since Northern Ireland was created after partition.

“It is no surprise that the DUP have sided with the Tories,” she added. “Experience shows that unionists have minimal influence on any British government be that on Major, Thatcher or Theresa May.

“They have achieved little propping up Tory governments in the past and put their own interests before those of the people,” O’Neill said, standing alongside Mr Adams at a Belfast press conference.

Voters had backed its abstentionist policy, she said, saying that the party had elected seven MPs and increased its vote share in each of the North’s 18 constituencies: “Nationalist opinion is looking to leadership at home and across Ireland not Britain,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist leader, Arlene Foster, who refused to take questions, said the DUP would enter talks with the Conservatives to “explore how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation at this time of great challenge”.

“To secure over a third of all votes cast is truly humbling. We do not take your support for granted and we make you all a simple promise to do everything we can to reward the trust you have placed in this party,”

In a scripted statement, the DUP leader said the election outcome was a “great result for the Union. Not just here in Northern Ireland but right across our United Kingdom.

“Those who want to tear apart the Union that we cherish and benefit from so hugely have been sent a clear and resounding message. In the days and weeks ahead, it is that Union that will be to the forefront of our minds.

“These are challenging times,” she stated, adding that the UK and “indeed our very way of life – are under threat from extremists”, while talks on the UK’s European Union departure are about to begin with “uncertainty” in London.