Talks on hold but Stormont rancour continues
Talks on hold but Stormont rancour continues


Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams has said he would “cancel his holidays now” to deal with outstanding issues and get Stormont’s Executive back up and running.

It comes as the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, claimed on Wednesday that Sinn Fein has “no interest” in working to break the current political impasse.

After months of deadlock and a series of missed deadlines to re-establish powersharing at Stormont, the DUP leader accused Sinn Fein of being unwilling to compromise.

She said talks aimed at restoring powersharing would restart at the end of August but added that she has reached “the conclusion that Sinn Fein are not interested in devolution”.

“It’s their way or no way. We want to see devolution but it takes two to make this work and if they don’t want to make it work then we will have to move on to a different situation,” Mrs Foster said.

However Mr Adams said he could “write a thesis” in response to Mrs Foster’s comments.

He said: “Let no one in any circumstances, in any way, underestimate Sinn Fein’s preparedness to make talks work. Our record is there for all to see.

“You could write a thesis on Arlene’s remarks this morning. She starts off by saying that the talks will begin again in earnest in August. I presumed, until now that because we were there, that the talks were in earnest. She goes on to say that she’s disappointed to say that Sinn Fein is not up for making this work.

“When you boil all of this down the big question which no unionist leader has been able to get away from, is whether unionism, or at least its leadership is prepared to embrace a new dispensation in which everyone’s rights are respected and actively promoted and defended; or whether they want to cling to the remnants of the old unionist way of doing things.

“That’s the profound question for unionists.

He added: “I’m going on holiday. I’ll cancel my holiday now. We will put a negotiating team in now to deal with these outstanding issues. They’re all about rights. They’re all very straight forward. They threaten no one.”

The issues which loom largest in the media are language and marriage equality and mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

The 26 County Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed he and British prime minister Theresa May were willing to “drop everything” and get involved in talks. He said he did not believe difficulties between Sinn Fein and the DUP, which have created political stalemate at Stormont, were insurmountable.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in Belfast, where he was on his first visit since taking over the helm of his party’s minority government in Dublin.

He said Sinn Fein and the DUP needed to come to a point where an agreement could be sealed.

“I’ve had this conversation with prime minister May on the phone and when I met her in London. Both of us are willing to become involved in the talks, but only if it’s going to make a difference.

“We’re willing and able to do whatever we can to get the Executive up and running again and have the Assembly meet.”

Mr Adams, speaking after a meeting with Mr Varadkar, called on the Dublin government to pay their part in tackling the rights issues that remain outstanding from the Good Friday and subsequent agreements that are their responsibility.

“That means in the next round of talks there must be progress on Irish language rights, marriage equality, the Bill of Rights, legacy matters and anti-sectarian measures,” he said.

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