Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams 'most divisive political figure of past 50 years': UUP's Aiken

UUP MLA Steve Aiken has branded Gerry Adams "the most divisive figure in British and Irish politics in the last fifty years".

The South Antrim representative made the comments ahead of Monday's deadline for re-establishing the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Aiken was responding to criticism levelled against "elements of political unionism" by the Sinn Fein president.

Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday, Mr Adams said: "Let me say again for the record that Sinn Féin's endeavour is to have the institutions reestablished and functioning properly as quickly as possible.

"I was in Stormont yesterday, on Monday and last week. I dealt with these issues this morning and will do so again later. I know that the process is slow. That is because of the resistance to change within elements of political unionism."

Mr Aiken said this was an attempt to create "the narrative of blame for his failure to deliver a deal in Northern Ireland".

Direct rule

The UUP chief whip warned Northern Ireland is heading towards direct rule "unless something dramatically changes within the next 24 hours".

Mr Aiken reiterated a point made by his party leader Robin Swann that it was unlikely there would be a deal before Sinn Fein and the DUP have their party conferences.

Sinn Fein is due to hold its party conference on Friday 17 November and Saturday 18 November at the RDS in Dublin.

The DUP will be holding its conference a week later at the La Mon Hotel in Castlereagh.

"Arlene Foster won't want to be trying to sell a deal which contains an Irish Language Act and Gerry Adams will lose face if he tries to sell a deal which doesn't have one. Therein lies the problem," Mr Aiken said.

Talks to reestablish the Executive ended on Friday with no agreement, and it is understood no further negotiations have taken place this weekend.

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