Sinn Fein pulls out of talks
Sinn Fein pulls out of talks


Sinn Fein has withdrawn from all-party talks at Stormont on restoring the Six County Assembly after reporting no substantive progress in any of the issues under discussion. The talks involving the Democratic Unionist Party and the Dublin and London governments had a deadline of tomorrow afternoon.

“This talks process has run its course. Sinn Fein will not be supporting nominations for speaker or the Executive tomorrow,” Sinn Fein’s leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill, said at Stormont on Sunday evening.

The new Six County Assembly was scheduled to meet at noon to appoint a speaker, First Minister, deputy First Minister and other ministers. With the 4pm deadline now very unlikely to be met, the British Direct Ruler James Brokenshire in obliged under legislation to call fresh Assembly elections.

However, it is unclear what the next step in the political crisis will be. In previous impasses, the British government implemented a return to full Direct Rule from London while calling for further talks.

Shortly after 5pm on Sunday, Sinn Fein negotiators, including party leader Gerry Adams and Ms O’Neill, blamed both the two governments and the DUP for the deadlock.

“Sinn Fein in the talks sought the full implementation of the outstanding issues of equality and rights. The governments and the DUP have failed to step up to the plate,” said Ms O’Neill.

“The British government has refused to honour its responsibilities. Their objective has not been truth and healing but continued cover-up of their actions in Ireland.

“They have also set aside the democratic wishes of the people and are intent on imposing Brexit and continued austerity.

“Sinn Fein is still intent on honouring our mandate and agreements made. We want to see the institutions restored, but when we said there will be no return to the status quo we meant it.”

Earlier on Sunday, Sinn Fein appeared to signal it was bracing for fresh elections. Mr Adams also criticised the DUP for not turning up for Sunday’s negotiations at Stormont.

“Regrettably, thus far in the talks process there has been no substantive progress across all of the key issues that are at the core of the current impasse,” said Mr Adams.

“Unionism is at a crossroads,” he added.

“The DUP needs to decide whether and when it will rise to the challenges of this time and work in genuine partnership with nationalists and republicans, and all sections of our society, on the basis of equality and respect. For everyone.”

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