Belfast Telegraph

'It's being done as a back door, seedy deal: UUP's Beattie hits out at talks exclusion

UUP MLA Doug Beattie has hit out at the way talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive are being conducted.

Speaking on the BBC's Nolan Show, the Upper Bann politician said his party was "not even in the room for this at the moment".

"This is being done as a back door, seedy deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein and we're being kept out of the loop," he said.

"Until we start bringing all the parties in, so we can put across all of our ideas, then it is really hard to try and influence some of these things."

Northern Ireland has been without an Executive since January, following the resignation of former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness over the DUP's conduct around the botched RHI energy scheme.

Last week Secretary of State James Brokenshire set a deadline of October 30 for the re-establishment of the Executive, after which he would be required to set a budget. 

"Political scavengers and opportunists"

Mr Beattie also discussed an article he had written for the Belfast Telegraph in which he hit out at Sinn Fein's equality agenda and described the party as "political scavengers and opportunists" - making specific reference to its pursuit of an Irish language act and support for LGBT rights.

Questioned about it, he said: "We have a political party now, which runs about and it picks up ideas from other people and it runs with them as though they are the sole arbiter of that.

"They have done it with the LGBT community as if they are the only people speaking up for them, they have done it with the Irish language act as if they are the only people speaking for it.

"But when it comes to victims they are more than happy to say that incidents that occurred which were the responsibility of republicans shouldn't be investigated. But they’re more than happy that soldiers and others should be investigated."

"Absolutely wonderful language"

Mr Beattie also responded to the position on the Irish language act taken by his party leader Robin Swann - outlined at the UUP party conference at the weekend - in which it would lead to "further division in society" and would let people know "whose territory we were in by the road signs".

"There is absolutely nobody within the Ulster Unionist party who disrespects the Irish language," said Mr Beattie.

"I personally think it is an absolutely wonderful language, I think it enriches our society, I think it enriches our culture and our identity - but I am against an Irish language act.

"The two things are very, very different. And what we need to do is be extremely respectful to the Irish language community, but at the same time stand up and say our reasons for not wanting an act. They are two different things."

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