Sinn Féin leader accuses DUP of lacking urgency in NI talks


Gerry Adams said an agreement was unlikely by Monday

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Gerry Adams said an agreement was unlikely by Monday

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has accused the DUP of lacking a sense of urgency in talks aimed at reaching a deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams said an agreement was unlikely to happen by Monday when the Northern Ireland secretary is due to update MPs.

Earlier, the DUP accused Sinn Féin of having a “shopping list” of demands.

Theresa May phoned the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin’s northern leader on Friday.

The Prime Minister urged Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to reach agreement.

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Reuters

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Theresa May spoke to the DUP’s Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill in separate phone calls on Friday

Negotiations drew to a close on Saturday afternoon and are set to resume on Monday.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Adams said: “The DUP are showing no urgency about dealing with the equality and rights issues, which caused the collapse of the political institutions.

“There is little prospect that they will do this before Monday.

There is no agreement on Acht na Gaeilge [Irish language act], the Bill of Rights, marriage equality, respect, anti-sectarian measures or legacy issues. Equality, rights and respect are the only basis for sustainable institutions.”

The Sinn Féin leader said this could only be achieved with “a step change in the DUP position”.

“A starting point for all the parties and especially the DUP has to be that there can be no return to the status quo. The institutions have to deliver for all citizens,” he said.

On Friday night, the DUP’s Christopher Stalford said Sinn Féin had presented a “shopping list” of demands and was refusing to go back into government until they had received every item on their list.

He also said that politicians needed to stop “using culture as a stick to poke each other with”.

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Christopher Stalford accused Sinn Féin of putting together a “shopping list” of demands

It is understood that the mood so far has not been positive ahead of Monday’s statement by James Brokenshire.

The secretary of state has the option of extending the talks, calling another assembly election or reintroducing direct rule.

On Saturday, he said: “I still believe power-sharing can happen, but it has not happened yet.”

Mr Brokenshire said there were no deadlines but he would be making a statement to Parliament on Monday afternoon to update the House of Commons on what the next steps in the talks might look like.

On the BBC’s Any Questions on Friday, he said that the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland “cannot continue for much longer”.

Mr Brokenshire said the Northern Ireland Civil Service “has effectively been running the show” and decisions on budgets need to be taken by politicians.

The head of the civil service in Northern Ireland, Sir Malcolm McKibbin formally retired on Friday.

But the parties have asked him to continue chairing the negotiations.

Sinn Féin’s demand for an Irish language act is a major stumbling block, with the DUP refusing to agree to it as part of any deal.



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