Stormont Executive failing on peace, claims Fianna Fail's leader Micheal Martin
Stormont's ruling political parties have created a dangerous vacuum in Northern Ireland by failing to fulfil the promise of peace and reconciliation, the Fianna Fail leader has claimed.
A lack of commitment from the Irish and British governments to ensuring the Belfast institutions work properly has also threatened hard won gains of the peace process, Micheal Martin warned.
Mr Martin used his party's annual 1916 Easter Rising commemoration to reiterate his critical appraisal of the DUP and Sinn Fein-led Executive and the role of London and Dublin. "In the Executive, Sinn Fein and DUP ministers show no interest in using their strength to bridge differences – in fact they do the exact opposite," he claimed.
"More than at any stage since they took control of the Executive from the SDLP and UUP, they are adopting a strategy of playing to their own section of the community, even if this means attacking the very institutions they are supposed to oversee."
Mr Martin's criticism of the Executive prompted accusations from political rivals that he is using the issue as a means to attack Fianna Fail's electoral competitors in the Republic, particularly Sinn Fein and Fine Gael.
Addressing the Fianna Fail event at Arbour Hill cemetery in Dublin, Mr Martin claimed the DUP's stance over parading and Union flag protests and Sinn Fein's criticism of the PSNI were examples of failed leadership.
"What we are getting from these parties is what has rightly been termed all politics and no governance," he said.
"But what they don't seem to understand is that if the Assembly and Executive are not focused on the issues of concern to people every day like jobs and living standards – if all they do is reinforce suspicion, division and confrontation – then they are promoting disillusionment and failing to fulfil the promise of peace and reconciliation. As a party that claims to promote a republican ethos, Sinn Fein is also letting down nationalist and republican voters in a very profound way. No number of half-baked border poll gimmicks should be allowed to distract from this basic fact.
"The DUP and Sinn Fin are creating a dangerous vacuum. We watched this year as the flags protests exploded onto the streets.
"All of us who care about the North should worry about what will move next to fill that vacuum."