Belfast Telegraph

McDonald tells QUB audience: Intergovernmental conference needed to restore power-sharing

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to be held to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

Mrs McDonald addressed an audience at Queen’s University Belfast on Monday, saying that the two governments must produce a plan, a pathway to bring forward the legislation and resources to secure these rights and implement the agreements to break the political impasse.

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“For over 13 months we negotiated with the DUP, we reached an accommodation with their leadership. The draft agreement, while not meeting all our proposals, presented progress and provided a basis to re-establish power-sharing," she said.

“The DUP leadership were unable to deliver the draft agreement. I say this not to recriminate but to record my deep disappointment.

“The issues at stake, the rights of Irish Speakers as agreed in St Andrews, the legacy mechanisms agreed in Stormont House and the right to marriage equality –  available in the South and across Britain –  remain.

“These rights cannot be further delayed.

“A right delayed is a right denied."

Mrs McDonald rejected the idea of a shadow assembly proposed by the DUP.

“It is time to move on, to implement the agreements and to secure these rights," she said.

“Any proposal for a shadow assembly is not a move forward.

“It represents a step away from powersharing.

“A shadow assembly would make us all bystanders to direct rule; Giving a veneer of accountability to direct rule.

“Sinn Féin will not countenance direct rule."

The Dublin Central TD said a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference was the way forward.

“So, in order to re-establish genuine power-sharing, the two governments must convene the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference," she said.

“The Intergovernmental Conference must produce a plan, a pathway to bring forward the legislation and resources to secure these rights and implement the agreements.

“The governments must secure these rights, consistent with the agreements, to  loosen the political deadlock and provide a pathway back to genuine powersharing.

“This a common-sense approach.

“It is a challenge to a British government that is dependent on the DUP.

“It is also a significant challenge to the DUP; To embrace the spirit of power-sharing and full equality. 

“I believe the power-sharing institutions are the best, the only option to chart a way forward together; to navigate the big societal change we face.”

 

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