Belfast Telegraph

DUP demand Sinn Fein can't pull down institutions again 'reasonable' says Simon Coveney

DUP demands the Northern Ireland institutions can not be brought down again by Sinn Fein should they be restored, is a reasonable expectation, the Irish Tanaiste and foreign minister Simon Coveney has said.

The senior government figure said the DUP wanted to make sure the Executive was sustainable into the future and could handle difficult issues.

Northern Ireland has not had devolved government for a year after Sinn Fein pulled out over the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. The party has called for legacy funding promises to be fulfilled, for Arlene Foster to stand aside during the RHI inquiry and for an Irish language act.

Months of talks have failed to broker agreement between the two forcing Secretary of State James Brokenshire to set a budget for Northern Ireland and civil servants to take decisions.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Simon Coveney claims the DUP has asked for the security of the institutions to be strengthened should they get restoration.

“That is not an unreasonable ask from the DUP and it is one of the issues they are concerned about,” he said.

“They want to make sure that the executive is sustainable into the future and dealing with difficult issues, that it can survive that, and be robust.”

Mr Coveney said the design of the institutions, however, would be a matter for the parties and the British and Irish governments would not interfere.

He added: "I don’t think it is an unreasonable ask of the DUP to expect that there would be some accommodation of their concerns that this time the structures are more sustainable in terms of being maintained through difficult political debates.”

Mr Coveney also said he didn't want to "get into a slagging match" with the DUP over Sammy Wilson's comments he and the Taoiseach were damaging Anglo-Irish relations with their "cynical, aggressive, green, partisan" approach to the Brexit negotiations.

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