Belfast Telegraph

Comments by Gerry Adams a 'step forward': DUP's Hamilton

Comments by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams that his party are committed to restoring the powersharing Executive have been welcomed by DUP MLA Simon Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton - who has been one of his party's main negotiators in the talks to reestablish the Stormont Assembly - said that the comments had been a "step forward".

The Strangford MLA said: "Northern Ireland government has been held to ransom by Sinn Fein since March for narrow political reasons.

"Gerry Adams' change of tone is a step forward. The DUP has had no preconditions and stands ready to reestablish an Executive immediately. Whilst language and culture are important so too are decisions on health, education and infrastructure."

Mr Hamilton went on: "We made a reasonable offer which would have seen government restored and negotiations on cultural matters take place in parallel. Disappointingly SF rejected this offer within 90 minutes.

"We will be engaging with SF this week. We want to see government restored. We want to see culture and language matters fairly addressed. We will not accept cultural supremacy for one section of our community. There is enough space in Northern Ireland for mutual respect and a shared future," the DUP representative added.

Speaking earlier, Gerry Adams insisted that his party were still committed to making a deal with the DUP to restore powersharing.

The party's president denied speculation they have lost interest in current negotiations about the ongoing impasse about restoring the Executive at Stormont.

Mr Adams said: "Sinn Fein is fully committed to the powersharing institutions and we are working to restore them.

"However, the lesson of recent years is clear. As Martin McGuinness reminded us the political institutions can only work if they are based on equality, respect and integrity.

"Our opponents, including elements in the DUP, the Fianna Fail leadership and others claim Sinn Fein is no longer interested in the Assembly. They know this is a lie."

Mr Adams continued: "So in order that there is no doubt - let me make it clear to everyone, including republican grassroots; our leadership is up for doing a deal with the DUP and the other parties, and of moving back into the Executive on that basis.

"Let the DUP and the two governments also be in no doubt. No policy can be sustained without the informed consent of citizens."

Mr Adams made the comments at a Ballymurphy event to commemorate hunger strikers.

A series of talks between the main parties aimed at restoring the devolved institutions at Stormont have so far been unsuccessful.

Sinn Fein has said there can be no return to government without a stand-alone Irish Language Act and a commitment from the DUP to allow the introduction of same-sex marriage.

The DUP insisted their party has no red line conditions for a deal.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has suggested a "cross-community" language act including provisions for Ulster Scots as well as Irish could be introduced as a compromise.

However, Sinn Fein's northern leader Michelle O'Neill rejected the proposal.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has previously indicated that if a resolution is not reached by mid-October, direct rule may be introduced.

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