Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Sinn Fein cut talks with James Brokenshire short because of 'waffle'

Sinn Fein have blasted Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire for delivering nothing but "waffle, waffle, waffle" to the Stormont crisis talks.

Michelle O'Neill, who has replaced Martin McGuinness as leader of the party in the region, said she cut a meeting short with Mr Brokenshire because of the "waffle".

Talks are being held between Stormont's political parties and the Secretary of State in a bid to restore the power-sharing executive. Parties have just three weeks to reach a deal.

One of the main issues raised by Sinn Fein with Mr Brokenshire was the need for financial assistance to deal with inquests into deaths during the Troubles.

"We needed a fundamental change in approach from the British Government. We made that very clear to James Brokenshire today. All he did was waffle, waffle and more waffle in relation to how we are going to go forward and give families what they need, which is access to due process as per the request of the Lord Chief Justice," Ms O'Neill said.

She added: "We called the meeting to an end because we had more waffle. We called the meeting short and asked him to go and reflect on that."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said that money for legacy inquests had been set aside, at the request of the Lord Chief Justice, as part of a previous Stormont agreement, know as the Fresh Start Agreement.

He added: "Some families have been waiting 45 years. This affects all victims regardless of who the perpetrators have been. They need to get those inquests underway. They have been delayed, stopped and prevented because the British refuse to give the funds.

"(On Monday) (Mr Brokenshire) said he would reflect on that. It is clear that if he had reflected he had come to no good conclusion."

Sinn Fein has met with the DUP and further meetings are planned, said Mr Adams. He added this was an indication that issues were being tackled.

Earlier, former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain said Prime Minister Theresa May must call an urgent summit to restore the Northern Ireland Executive or direct rule will be inevitable.

However, a senior Government source told the Press Association there was no reason for Mrs May to become intensively involved in post-election talks at this stage.

The source said the more sensible approach is for Mr Brokenshire to take the lead, as previous secretaries of state have done in the past.

However, Mrs May's involvement at some stage in the future has not been ruled out.

Mr Brokenshire and Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan have been mandated by the British and Irish governments to lead the talks.

The Government source also disputed Lord Hain's comments that the London and Dublin Governments had "taken their eyes off the ball" and said that under the current Government there have been two major political agreements and the longest period of unbroken devolved government since the 1960s.

Last week's Assembly election ended the unionist majority at Stormont, with Sinn Fein now just a solitary seat behind the DUP.

DUP party leader Arlene Foster met with her MLAs for the first time since the election.

Following their meeting she said she was "delighted" with the support she had received from her colleagues.

She added that she was looking forward to going into the negotiations to "get a good deal, not just for unionism but for all the people of Northern Ireland".

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph