Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams willing to cancel holidays for Northern Ireland talks

 

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams has said he would "cancel his holidays now" to deal with outstanding issues and get Stormont's Executive back up and running.

It comes as DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed on Wednesday that Sinn Fein has "no interest" in working to break the current political impasse.

After months of deadlock and a series of missed deadlines to re-establish powersharing at Stormont the DUP leader 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".

"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," Mrs Foster said.

However Mr Adams said he could "write a thesis" in response to Mrs Foster's comments.

He said: "Let no one in any circumstances, in any way, underestimate Sinn Fein’s preparedness to make talks work. Our record is there for all to see.

“You could write a thesis on Arlene’s remarks this morning. She starts off by saying that the talks will begin again in earnest in August. I presumed, until now that because we were there, that the talks were in earnest. She goes on to say that she’s disappointed to say that Sinn Fein is not up for making this work.

“When you boil all of this down the big question which no unionist leader has been able to get away from, is whether unionism, or at least its leadership is prepared to embrace a new dispensation in which everyone’s rights are respected and actively promoted and defended; or whether they want to cling to the remnants of the old unionist way of doing things.

“That’s the profound question for unionists.

He added: “I’m going on holiday. I’ll cancel my holiday now. We will put a negotiating team in now to deal with these outstanding issues. They’re all about rights. They’re all very straight forward. They threaten no one.”

BACKGROUND

The DUP 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.

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.

Sinn Fein continues to insist that the Stormont institutions could be restored within a matter of days.

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