Belfast Telegraph

Next days critical, after Friday it's over to electorate, warns Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill

By Jonny Bell

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill has said the coming days are critical in the Northern Ireland talks process, but after Friday it will be over to the electorate.

Speaking at lunchtime on Monday, the Sinn Fein leader said the party was committed to making the devolved institutions work, but there had been no sign of a change in attitude from the British Government or the DUP.

The Mid Ulster MLA said: "We want the institutions to work, but they have to deliver for all. So we will take the days ahead of us, but it is a critical period.

Sinn Fein Press Conference

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Monday, April 10, 2017

"If we don't see the fundamental issues addressed - which Martin [McGuinness] set out very clearly in his resignation letter and I would encourage people to go back to that - if the DUP and the British Government do not take on board those issues then it is very, very difficult and there will be little progress or little opportunity to address what needs to be addressed."

Read more: Martin McGuinness' resignation letter in full

She continued: "We remain committed in trying to deal with issues that are there. We have set out what we want to see delivery on but we need to see a different approach from the DUP and British Government

Mrs O'Neill said there can be no return to the system that allowed ministers to make "solo runs or bigoted decisions". But after five weeks there had been "little progress".

"Post Friday it will be over the electorate," she said.

Asked if the party would not enter government with Arlene foster until the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry had reported, Mrs O'Neill said: "Yes, our position is on the record and very clear in relation to Arlene Foster.

"We need to deal with all the others issues before considering nominating for first and deputy first minister."

Secretary of State James Brokenshire effectively set Good Friday as the latest deadline - although there is speculation the talks will be allowed to continue if progress is being made. Mr Brokenshire will be required, however, to take decisions setting a budget for government departments and deciding on a regional rate. He does not have to give an immediate verdict on calling another Assembly election or moving towards Direct Rule.

Read more: Little hope for Stormont political deal as Easter deadline looks set to slip

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