Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein tells Brokenshire: British government has done nothing to achieve Stormont deal and wants power-sharing to fail

Secretary of State faces wrath of SDLP and Sinn Fein after General Election vote

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein have told James Brokenshire that the British government has "done nothing" to achieve a deal at Stormont - and accused it of wanting power-sharing in Northern Ireland to fail.

Northern Ireland's political parties met with Mr Brokenshire on Thursday following the decision to hold a General Election.

He was expected to come under fire from the SDLP and Sinn Fein over the poll as he met the parties.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan was also due to hold meetings.

On Wednesday Parliament approved the Prime Minister's call for a snap General Election on June 8.

Nationalist parties have said that it shows a lack of interest from Prime Minister Theresa May into the ongoing Stormont crisis talks.

The decision to call a General Election has cast doubt over whether a deal will be found in the talks.

Northern Ireland's political parties are set to resume negotiations aimed at forming a power sharing government.

The parties missed the deadline in forming a government within the six weeks after the election.

Speaking after the meeting Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said she told Mr Brokenshire that the British government had done "nothing" to achieve an agreement in the talks.

Mrs O'Neill accused the British Government of wanting power-sharing in Northern Ireland to fail.

There is a growing belief out there among the wider nationalist community that the Government don't want a power-sharing executive to work here

"They don't want an executive that is going to take a firm stand against Brexit because obviously the majority of people here voted to remain in the European Union.

Mrs O'Neill continued: "I told him (Secretary of State) the British government have done nothing over the course of last seven weeks to achieve an agreement.

“There is a growing belief among nationalists and people who voted to remain that the British government would prefer no local Assembly to one which stands against the Tories’ reckless Brexit agenda.

“It’s clear that the people of the north who voted to remain in the EU are regarded as saboteurs by Theresa May and her clique of Tory Brexiteers. We are no more than collateral damage.

“Theresa May needs to hear clearly from the people of the north that we don’t want Brexit, we don’t want a border and we don’t want Tory cuts and austerity.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has accused Theresa May of throwing "a grenade into the middle" of the peace process.

However Mr Brokenshire said earlier this week that the General Election would not change his approach or attitude in finding a deal for Stormont.

He said: "Discussions between the parties, and the UK and Irish Governments, will continue, in accordance with the three-stranded approach.

"The prospect of a forthcoming UK general election does not change this approach."

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