Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams says rights agenda crucial to progress in powersharing talks

Gerry Adams has said he will cancel his forthcoming holiday and begin immediate negotiations to restore powersharing at Stormont if the DUP is ready to embrace rights for all.

The Sinn Fein leader insisted that the republican party is committed to making the talks process work.

He was responding to claims from DUP leader Arlene Foster that Sinn Fein has no interest in working to break the political deadlock.

"Let no one under any circumstances in any way underestimate Sinn Fein's preparedness to be part of talks, to make talks work. Our record is there for all to see," he said.

Speaking from Sinn Fein headquarters in West Belfast Mr Adams added: "I am going on holidays. I would cancel our holidays now. We would put a negotiating team in now to deal with these outstanding issues. They are all about rights. They threaten no one.

"We would do better if we committed ourselves to making this work as opposed to these casual dismissals."

He also said a big question for unionists is "whether unionism and its leaders are ready to embrace a new dispensation in which everyone's rights are respected and promoted and defended or whether they want to cling to the remnants of the old unionist way of doing things."

Earlier Mrs Foster accused Sinn Fein of being unwilling to compromise or build a shared future for all communities in Northern Ireland.

She said talks aimed at restoring powersharing will restart at the end of August, but added that she has reached "the conclusion that Sinn Fein are not interested in devolution".

The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein remain at loggerheads over a range of issues.

Sticking points include the shape of legislation to protect Irish language speakers, the DUP's opposition to lifting the region's ban on same-sex marriage, and mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Talks between the parties were postponed for the summer after they failed to reach agreement.

"The talks will begin again in earnest at the end of August.

"But given some of the commentary over the summer from Sinn Fein it does point to me that Sinn Fein aren't interested in devolution or an agreement with their neighbours in Northern Ireland," Mrs Foster told reporters following an event at the Maze site outside Lisburn on Wednesday morning.

She accused Sinn Fein of showing "no spirit of compromise" and "no willingness to build a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland".

"It's their way or no way. We want to see devolution but it takes two to make this work and if they don't want to make it work then we will have to move on to a different situation," said Mrs Foster.

She added: "We can't keep going on and on. There's a growing frustration.

"I regretfully have come to the conclusion that Sinn Fein aren't interested in devolution."

The bitter political rift between Stormont's two largest parties has left the region without a first and deputy first minister since January and a functioning executive since March.

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