Belfast Telegraph

A new election is the only way forward if talks fail to restore Assembly: Adams

By Adrian Rutherford

A fresh election must be called if crisis talks to restore Stormont do not deliver a deal, Gerry Adams has warned.

The Sinn Fein president said another snap poll - the third in a year - was the only way to proceed in the event of negotiations not producing agreement.

The parties have been locked in talks to break the political impasse that threatens to end 10 years of devolved government in Northern Ireland. The negotiations are currently suspended for Easter.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said that if there is no breakthrough by "early May" he will either trigger an election or move to a return to direct rule.

Addressing an Easter Rising commemoration in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, Mr Adams said: "Sinn Fein wants a deal. But if there is no deal then there has to be an election."

He added: "The role and responsibility of the Irish Government must be to assert that an election is the only legal course open to the British Government if the current talks fail to elect an Executive."

Mr Adams also warned that a change in approach was needed from the DUP.

The Irish language and legacy issues are among a range of sticking points between the parties. Last week the DUP hinted at a shift with party leader Arlene Foster pledging to meet Irish language speakers to hear their concerns.

While Sinn Fein welcomed her comments as a "positive step", Mr Adams insisted the DUP must go further.

"A new generous unionist approach will be embraced and met with flaithiulacht (generosity) from Sinn Fein and other progressives.

"However, if what we have seen from the DUP in recent times continues, that will only guarantee that there will be no DUP First Minister and no return to the status quo at Stormont," he said.

The DUP is seeking to secure protections for Ulster-Scots speakers and has pressed for the introduction of a military covenant in Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams said seeking a "counter balance" represented a "flawed approach".

"The DUP leader can cast about for some 'counter balance', some quid pro quo, to legitimate progressive measures which benefit everyone," he added. "She will achieve absolutely nothing but continued division if she thinks she can build a strategy on such a flawed approach."

Elsewhere yesterday Sinn Fein national chairperson Declan Kearney claimed the DUP and UK Government were living in denial, and represent an anti-equality axis which has blocked progress in the Stormont talks.

He claimed that unless their position changes after Easter, they would be responsible for continuing political deadlock.

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