‘Divining Sinn Féin’s intentions’
A chara, – Your editorial “Divining Sinn Féin’s intentions” (May 15th) is an astonishing rewriting of the current political situation in the North.
It is wrong to portray DUP behaviour in the election campaign as “conciliatory” just a day after its leader Arlene Foster made sexist and personalised and disparaging remarks about me as her political opponent.
The current crisis was brought about by the refusal of the British government to honour agreements and brought to a head over allegations of financial scandal and waste of public money on the “ash for cash” renewable heat incentive scheme scandal.
Sinn Féin stood in the March Assembly election to reestablish an Executive based on equality and respect and operating with integrity. We stood for the full implementation of agreements. And the people responded with the highest turnout since the Belfast Agreement.
This is not the sole demand of Sinn Féin but the position of all the parties that supported the agreements including the Irish Government.
Since then the DUP and the British government have refused to commit to fully implement the agreements.
The fiction that the DUP is softening its position has no basis in fact.
Despite gestures such as visiting Irish schools and meeting Irish-language groups – which I have publicly welcomed – the DUP appear intent on continuing to block the rights of Irish speakers. It still states there is no demand for an Irish Language Act despite the calls of Irish language groups, including Pobal and Conradh na Gaeilge which Arlene Foster has met, and only recently DUP councillors on Belfast City Council tried to block the council’s appointment of an Irish-language officer.
The DUP also recently signed up to support immunity for former members of the British armed forces. This is an insult to victims and survivors; everyone should be equal before the law and no one should be above the law. This position runs contrary to the previous agreements.
It is quite clear that the DUP have not changed its position, at this point, on denying equality, rights or progress on legacy issues.
Sinn Féin will be returning to the talks after this latest Westminster election on June 8th, with the objective of re-establishing an Executive based on an equal power-sharing government, which can command the public confidence of the people, delivers for everyone in society and for the full implementation of agreements.
The time is now for both the DUP and the British government to honour their commitments and to implement existing agreements.
Nothing less is acceptable to the people of the North, or to Sinn Féin as the voice of progressive change. – Is mise,
MICHELLE O’NEILL MLA,
Sinn Féin Leader
in the North,
Coalisland, Co Tyrone.