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DUP ready to fight another snap election in Northern Ireland, says Donaldson

Mr Donaldson said if there was an election the DUP would be 'out to win'

By Claire Williamson

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson has said as things stand in the current political crisis he believes Northern Ireland is "heading towards direct rule" - but vowed the party would be ready to fight a snap election.

The current talks aimed at forming an Executive and solving the political impasse will resume after Easter.

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

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.

Legacy, an Irish Language Act and Brexit have become major stumbling blocks to the Stormont negotiations.

Last week the DUP hinted at a shift with party leader Arlene Foster pledging to meet Irish language speakers to hear their concerns.

Speaking on Monday to the BBC Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said "as things stand we are heading towards direct rule".

He said in order to strike a deal it would require a "change in attitude" from Sinn Fein.

However on Sunday Sinn Fein said the same about the DUP's approach.

Mr Donaldson told Good Morning Ulster: "It will require Sinn Fein to change their attitude.

"They are constantly making public statements and talking about negative outcomes.

"We are not. We have focused on the issues, we are in the talks, we are negotiating we are putting forward our positions. We are talking to Sinn Fein and the other political parties.

"But as things stand at the moment I think we are heading towards direct rule."

The Lagan Valley MP said that was not what the party or the Northern Ireland public wanted.

Speaking later on Monday he said, however, if there was an election the DUP would be "out to win".

Read more: DUP set to fight snap election if talks on powersharing fail, says Donaldson  

Mr Donaldson criticised the way Sinn Fein had treated negoatiations.

He said: "They haven't entered into negotiation mode in the meetings, they turn up and exchange views and leave but aren't negotiating.

He added: "I hope Sinn Fein this week will really begin to negotiate."

Mr Donaldson also slammed what he called the BBC's "obsession" with the Irish Language act.

He said: "It would appear to people it's all about the Irish language.

"The BBC's obsession with the Irish Language Act. Every time I do an interview all you want to talk about is Sinn Fein's wishlist.

"There are other parties here in the talks, other parties with other issues."

A BBC spokesman said it did not "editorialise on political or public policy issues".

He said: "We have covered the range of issues being considered by the parties and governments as part of the continuing talks at Stormont. Cultural diversity has been one aspect of these talks and this has been appropriately reflected within our coverage. We do not editorialise on political or public policy issues."

On Sunday Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said a fresh election must be called if crisis talks to restore Stormont do not deliver a deal.

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

He said: "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."

He added: "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."

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