Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill: Step change required from the British government and DUP to make progress

Sinn Fein MLA Michelle O'Neill has said a "step change" is required from the British government and DUP to make progress in talks aimed at restoring Stormont powersharing.

Speaking ahead of a public meeting at Derry City Hotel on Thursday night Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland said the recent election was a "watershed moment for the people of the North".

Ms O'Neill said: "The people understood the importance of the election. There can be no tolerance of incompetence and financial scandals such as Red Sky, NAMA, RHI or arrogance or bigotry in public office.

"We cannot be part of institutions which are being corrupted. To date there has been little progress on the key political issues. The next week is critical in the political talks. The political stakes are high.

"Getting the political institutions back in place will be a challenge given the DUP’s stated position on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and other fundamental requirements, and the British government’s obstructive approach to legacy issues and other matters.

"Over recent weeks Sinn Fein has been meeting all the Assembly parties and the British and Irish Governments and setting out our plan for getting out of this mess – for getting the power sharing institutions back up and running and for securing the place of the North within the EU."

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Ms O'Neill said the British Government had failed to honour its commitments on equality and rights.

"They must now step up and deliver on their commitments otherwise restoring the institutions is in serious doubt.

"The institutions will not be restored without movement on these key issues. The northern Executive is not sustainable unless it delivers and respects basic equality and human rights for all our citizens.

"Our absolute commitment is to the agreements we have made and their implementation. If others including the two governments do likewise then it is game on."

On Wednesday the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson claimed Sinn Fein was misleading the public bout the state of talks to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland.

The Lagan Valley MP questioned whether Sinn Fein actually wanted to reach agreement.

"I very much regret that Sinn Fein seem to be the doom and gloom merchants who are falsely accusing other parties of not engaging.

"DUP and the government and the other parties have attended every meeting, have been actively engaging and we believe all of the parties are actively engaged. In fact the only party who we believe has been holding back in these discussions is Sinn Fein.

"Having to listened to Michelle O'Neill's comments today it raises a serious question in our mind as to the level of commitment that Sinn Fein are giving to this process.

"Instead of being doom and gloom merchants they should be at the table being more constructive about trying to find solutions."

Ms O'Neill is due to address an audience at the Derry City Hotel at 7.30pm.

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