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Righteous anger as blame game begins

Editor's Viewpoint

The pre-emptive strike by Sinn Fein announcing that, as far as it is concerned, the Stormont talks process has run its course will disappoint many people.

The tone of the Sinn Fein statement is uncompromising, and it smacks of the "not an inch" policy that republicanism has traditionally criticised the unionist community for.

Sinn Fein talks about rebuilding public confidence in the Executive and Assembly and operating on the basis of equality and respect.

Yet the way in which the party has pulled out of the talks will not inspire confidence among the general public, which elected the politicians to get on with governing Northern Ireland.

The statement reads as if Sinn Fein had no serious intention of making the talks work, and will fall back on the old trick of blaming everyone but itself for the mess.

Ulster Unionist negotiator Tom Elliott claimed that the talks lacked structure, and that the bigger parties are still dismissive of the others.

He said that these were the worst series of negotiations he had been engaged in.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the talks collapsed because of "an unwillingness to engage in creative compromise", and blamed the DUP in particular for the impasse.

In turn, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that "there was little to suggest that Sinn Fein want to secure agreement", and that it behaved as if only its mandate mattered.

The public will conclude: "Here we go again, with everyone blaming each other." People are right to be angry about the failure of the politicians to deliver on the mandate they were given in the recent, unwanted election.

Despite their earlier misgivings, people were entitled to expect progress.

Mrs Foster's decision to attend the funeral of Martin McGuinness and the warm reception she received gave hope of a softening of attitudes.

There is little to be gained from a second election.

It could be even more bitter than the last, and one that would in all probability leave us back where we started.

Devolution is essential and it needs to be restored for the good of all our citizens.

We do not want a political vacuum to take hold, and certainly not as we approach another marching season.

The Secretary of State and other leading participants on all sides must do all that they can to keep the dialogue between the parties alive.

Belfast Telegraph

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