Belfast Telegraph

'Sinn Fein only party with red-lines': Foster responds to O'Neill's power-sharing remarks

By Sue Doherty

DUP leader Arlene Foster has dismissed claims by Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill that the DUP have given up on power-sharing with nationalists in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster says it's not her party but Sinn Fein whose demands are preventing the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland.

She was responding to comments posted online by the Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland over the weekend. 

Ms O'Neill claimed the DUP had issued "a whole new series of conditions"  to be met before the Assembly and Executive resume operations.

When asked by the Belfast Telegraph to comment on the remarks, Ms Foster stated: "Devolution is best for Northern Ireland. I would like to see the Assembly and Executive restored immediately.

"Unlike Sinn Fein, the DUP has no red-lines or preconditions to the restoration of devolution. Sinn Fein set down a list of demands during the Assembly election. That list has been getting longer since then."

Ms Foster also called on Sinn Fein to compromise, warning that a failure to do so would lead to the return of direct rule.

She said: "Any negotiations should be quite separate from the restoration of the Executive. The DUP manifesto sets out tests against which any deal would be weighed.

"If Sinn Fein is serious about restoring devolution then I would be happy to sit down with Michelle O’Neill today and start the process immediately. If Sinn Fein continue on their current path and refuse to compromise then it will inevitably lead to Direct Rule. I would much prefer to see local Ministers back in position taking decisions for the good of Northern Ireland."

Dup 'living in denial' - O'Neill

Writing for Eamonn Mallie's website , Ms O'Neill said: "The re-establishment of the Executive is a matter of agreeing the implementation of previous agreements. It could and should happen without delay.

"It now appears that DUP support for the Executive has a whole new series of conditions.

"Their Westminster manifesto sets out five tests for the negotiations and ten commitments. All, from a party that says, it has no red lines for agreement."

The latest developments, the mid-Ulster MLA said, "make reaching agreement more difficult and read like a manifesto for a return to British direct rule".

She continued: "It appears that the DUP has given up on power sharing with nationalists and republicans in favour of Tory rule.

"They are either living in denial about the step change that is required or have made the judgement that they would rather have Tory direct rule ministers than equal partnership Government based on the principles of the Good Friday Agreement."

Power-sharing talks are due to resume after the General Election.

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