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Arlene Foster says 'Sinn Fein must not win 5-0' - must be compromise for Stormont return



DUP leader Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that Sinn Fein must compromise on their demands if the Northern Ireland Assembly is to be restored.

Mrs Foster made the comments on BBC Radio Ulster while discussing the political legacy of the murder of Lyra McKee.

She held talks with Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Wednesday night following the funeral of Ms McKee.

Mrs Foster noted comments from Fr Michael Magill at the funeral service calling for politicians to get back around the table and talk to restore Stormont.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA acknowledged a public appetite for the return of devolved government, but said that Sinn Fein could not have everything their own way.

"I think listening to people, and I've been out and about during the local government elections campaign talking to people, they want devolution back," Mrs Foster said.

"I have said in the past and I make that plea again today, that we should get devolution back up and running again to deal with all of the issues that people are so concerned about.

"Let us back in and deal with those issues and have a parallel process to deal with matters which Sinn Fein want to raise, in a parallel and if necessary, time-limited process."

Sinn Fein had previously suggested that returning to the Assembly before agreement on a way forward would be a "false start".

"That would be putting their demands before the people of Northern Ireland, the people of Northern Ireland have many demands as well," Mrs Foster said.

"As I said to Fr Magill last night, he will not find me wanting when it comes to trying to get things back up and running again."

The DUP leader said that any agreement must be balanced and would not be giving into Sinn Fein's demands.

"We've always said that what must come out of any talks process is a balanced agreement, not just a win-lose scenario, because that's not what Northern Ireland is about," Mrs Foster said.

Mourners outside St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast broke into applause as Lyra McKee's coffin was carried into the church. Theresa May, who was in attendance, spoke with the partner and family of Lyra McKee.

"Northern Ireland wants to have a power-sharing Executive that everyone has a stake in and not just one community or one party.

"We have always said it's not a balanced agreement if Sinn Fein get everything that they want and people in my community are left with nothing.

"The red line is that we can't have a 5-0 situation for Sinn Fein."

Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said that it would take a "sustainable agreement" to see the institutions up and running again.

"We need one of that means the institutions can last and not go up for a short period and come back down again," the Newry and Armagh MLA said.

"It means that rights issues that people are entitled to in all other parts of these islands are delivered to people here as well.

"That's something I think that Lyra McKee and many people that were in that service yesterday have campaigned on for a long number of years."

Mr Murphy said rights issues like marriage equality affected everyone in Northern Ireland.

"We had a negotiation for over a year, Arlene Foster had a year to bring issues that were important to the DUP into those negotiations, at the end of that process we reached an agreement which she signed off on and wasn't able to deliver that agreement," he said.

"These aren't Sinn Fein issues, these are rights issues which apply to all people, not just Sinn Fein voters but DUP voters as well.

"These are issues that need to be addressed, the Assembly needs to be up and working again, but it needs to be working on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement.""

Belfast Telegraph