Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein accuse DUP of 'distraction politics' and rejects claim party is holding Northern Ireland back

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein has rejected a claim from the DUP's Gregory Campbell that the party is holding Northern Ireland back.

It comes after Mr Campbell said that there are "exciting times" ahead for Northern Ireland and the north west with the invitation for Londonderry to bid for a City Deal.

The East Londonderry MP said progress was being made on a number of fronts but that Sinn Fein's "triple boycott" of the House of Commons, Assembly and the Executive was halting progress.

Mr Campbell staked a claim the City Deal for Derry - something Chancellor Philip Hammond raised the prospect of during a visit to Northern Ireland earlier in the week - was part of the DUP's Confidence and Supply agreement with the Conservative Party.

"With the Open coming next year, pioneering research at the University, the enterprise zone and visitor numbers soaring there are exciting days ahead," the DUP stalwart said.

"Bringing the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Limavady was a great way for him to hear the stories first-hand and also see the potential. He was able to see why we were insistent that City Deals be part of the Conservative-DUP Confidence and Supply Agreement.

"It is shameful that with so much potential, the one millstone dragging people back, is the lack of Ministers to make decisions. Everywhere the Chancellor travelled he was met with the same message, ‘we need decisions made’. "

Mr Campbell said that Ministers needed to be in place to allow decisions to be made for the benefit of Northern Ireland.

"Whilst Sinn Fein doesn’t want anything resembling direct rule, they are running out of options. They are out of step with public opinion. People are losing patience. They should enter an Executive on Monday morning with nothing but their mandate. Every other main party is prepared to do that," the East Londonderry MP said.

"From public sector pay to institutional abuse victims. From the Bengoa reforms in hospitals to infrastructure spending in our schools. Every part of our community is hurting because they are waiting on Ministerial decisions. It cannot continue and the Government need to receive that message loud and clear."

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said that the DUP should concern themselves with matters within their own party.

“This is distraction politics from Gregory Campbell who would rather talk about anything other than the scandal over Ian Paisley’s links to the Sri Lankan government," the spokesperson said.

“The DUP have plenty to say about other parties and bus stops but are strangely tight-lipped on that issue.

“If the DUP were genuinely interested in restoring the power-sharing institutions then they wouldn’t be continuing to deny citizens their rights and they wouldn’t have walked away from the draft Agreement in February and collapsed the political talks."

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