Belfast Telegraph

Shadow Assembly a 'retreat' from power-sharing and would lack credibility: Sinn Fein

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein has said a shadow Assembly established in the absence of the Northern Ireland devolved institutions would represent a "retreat" from power-sharing saying it would lack credibility.

The party called again for the British and Irish governments to intervene to resolve the outstanding issues blocking a return to government.

Arlene Foster, in her speech to the DUP spring policy conference, reiterated her party’s support for a form of shadow Assembly that would give locally elected politicians a role in scrutinising decisions taken in Westminster during the absence of devolution.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long, speaking at her party conference said there should be a transitional Assembly, running in parallel with talks, as a "step towards the restoration of full devolution".

"To be clear," she added. "we want no part in any talking shop: we do not need yet another arena in which MLAs cut lumps out of each other for sport. We need to start taking back responsibility.

Responding Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald dismissed the idea.

"The way forward in the north is through real and genuine power-sharing, the delivery of citizens’ rights and equal partnership government," she said.

“Any proposed shadow Assembly would mark a retreat from power sharing and the leadership needed to restore the Good Friday Agreement framework. It would be an unacceptable step backwards, lacking credibility."

Sinn Fein has called on the two governments to act above the heads of the Northern Ireland parties as agreement between the party and the DUP looks increasingly unlikely and with further measures being introduced from London.

Ms McDonald continued: “The onus is now on the two governments to act and through their joint stewardship to remove the obstacles to restoring the political institutions.

“Both governments must now convene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference to find a way to implement outstanding agreements and to fully respect the rights of citizens to marriage equality, to language rights and the funding of legacy inquests.

“Direct rule is not an option. It was a failure in the past and would be so again.

“It’s time to face the real challenge to deliver citizens’ rights and to re-establish the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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