Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein and DUP issues 'not real' and damage Good Friday Agreement, says SDLP's Mallon

Seamus Mallon the former SDLP deputy First Minister has said some of the issues holding up the formation of power sharing in Northern Ireland are "not real" and the DUP and Sinn Fein are doing damage to the Good Friday Agreement.

Mallon, one of the architects of the historic 1998 accord, accused the two main political parties of making a mess of devolution with their continued failure to reach agreement.

"Damage has been done to the very essence of the agreement in terms of reconciling the communities," he said.

"You have a very sick society when the definition of culture on one side is the burning of bonfires and, on the other side, using the Irish language for what is a patently political reason.

"When you start to make a cultural element a red line in terms of political negotiation, it is impossible to pursue that without turning that into a political cudgel."

Mr Mallon who shared the First Ministers' office with David Trimble said his party would return after it was wiped out in the June General Election losing three MPs.

He added: "We'll keep the political process going while everybody else is beating drums and we'll get back. I have no doubts.

"The DUP and Sinn Fein are both dancing around each other. Some of the issues are not real issues."

He was speaking at the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh.

Read more: Dr Damian Smyth: 'John Hewitt was caricatured as a unionist curmudgeon, but the poet I knew had a brilliant wit'

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