Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein: Relations with DUP at lowest ebb since 2002

By Sean O'Driscoll

Relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein are at their worst point in more than 15 years, Gerry Adams has said.

The Sinn Fein president said that the atmosphere in talks had plummeted to a point where the DUP was seeking minimal contact and deliberately slowing the process.

He added that David Trimble was First Minister of Northern Ireland when negotiations between Sinn Fein and the DUP were at such a low point. Mr Trimble was UUP First Minister until 2002.

He also said that Martin McGuinness, the late Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister, had "breathed his last breath" trying to reach an accommodation with the DUP on an Irish Language Act.

Mr Adams was speaking on RTE Radio before Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire addressed the House of Commons yesterday to inform MPs that no progress had been made in talks.

Mr Adams said that the DUP was deliberately dragging out the process.

"The character of these negotiations is unlike any other negotiations we've had with the DUP. We are back almost to David Trimble's time when it was minimalist, it was slow and there was a lack of urgency," he added.

He said this was "hardly surprising" as the British and Irish Governments had not pushed for the DUP to conclude the talks.

The DUP struck a deal last month in which its 10 MPs will support the minority Conservative Government in exchange for £1 billion in aid to Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams dismissed any suggestion that Sinn Fein should set aside its demand for an Irish Language Act until it had formed an Executive with the DUP, and said Martin McGuinness had tried repeatedly to reach such an agreement while in Stormont.

"We've been through all of that," he said.

"Martin McGuinness breathed his last breath having given 10 years of this life, having given three different mandates with three different DUP leaders."

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