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Michelle O'Neill: Only option James Brokenshire entitled to take is to call an election

SF totally opposed to any new legislation to bring back Direct Rule, says Sinn Fein leader

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill has said the only option Secretary of State James Brokenshire is entitled to take, is to call an election.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire on Tuesday outlined his plan to save power-sharing at Stormont and said all options will be considered if talks to form an Executive fail after Easter.

Responding to Mr Brokenshire's statement to the House of Commons Mrs O'Neill said: "There is only one option which the British Secretary of State is entitled to take and that is to call an election. There is no legal basis for any other course of action.

"And while parties may or may not want an election the fact is if the British Secretary of State brings in new legislation to restore Direct Rule that will be an act of bad faith and a clear breach of an agreement between the Irish and British governments in 2006.

Read more:

Northern Ireland Secretary Brokenshire: We do not want to see a return to direct rule but 'window of opportunity is short'  

James Brokenshire - five key quotes from House of Commons statement on Stormont deadlock  

James Brokenshire House of Commons statement in full  

“Sinn Fein has made it clear that all of the outstanding issues can be resolved. There can be no return to the status quo.

“We have no objection to the British Secretary of State leaving some time for that to be done but we are totally opposed and we would look to the Irish government to oppose, any new legislation to bring back Direct Rule.”

Sinn Fein walked away from crisis talks on Sunday saying they had "run their course" which led to the 4pm Monday deadline to form an Executive not being met.

Mr Brokenshire said he did not want to see a return to direct rule but if talks fail, he made clear the Government would consider it.

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