Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein 'glorification of terrorism' makes Northern Ireland power-sharing restoration more difficult: Arlene Foster

  • Sinn Fein and DUP appear further apart after meeting PM
  • May says agreement can be reached and calls for talks next week

Arlene Foster has said the "glorification of terrorism" by Sinn Fein was making it more difficult to restore power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

Following talks in Downing Street with Prime Minister Theresa May, the DUP leader said they remained committed to the return of devolved government at Stormont. Mrs May said talks should resume as early as next week.

Arlene Foster said any agreement had to work for both unionists and nationalists, and the activities of Sinn Fein were not helping.

Over the weekend the party's Ard Fheis held tributes to the late Martin McGuinness. Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said the former deputy First Minister was a "proud member of the IRA".

Speaking from Downing Street, Mrs Foster said events at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis were "quite disgraceful".

"The glorification of terrorism at Sinn Fein’s conference does make it more difficult to restore devolution," she said.

Sinn Fein continue to eulogise and glorify the murder of innocent people. Arlene Foster

"They may lecture others about rights, but the greatest right of all is the right to life. Sinn Fein have not only supported terrorism in the past but as recently as last weekend they continue to eulogise and glorify the murder of innocent people. In a rights-based society where there is equality and respect for everyone, innocent victims should also be treated with respect and not be subjected to such offensive displays.

"The DUP is seeking an agreement that can be supported by both unionists and nationalists. We will not make progress with a narrow focus solely on the demands of nationalism or republicanism.”

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (centre left) speaks to the media with (left to right) Elisha McCallion, Conor Murphy, Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Chris Hazzard and Michelle O'Neill as they leave Downing Street. Pic Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Arlene Foster said the talks with the Prime Minister were "very useful and positive" saying the DUP remained committed to returning the Stormont institutions and had no "red lines" on re-entering government.

"It was made very clear to the Prime Minister that talks must continue, but the internal affairs of Northern Ireland are and will remain a matter entirely for the UK Government, the House of Commons and the parties in Northern Ireland.

"Republicans must remember that if they are going to reference parts of the Belfast Agreement then they cannot ignore other parts, including the principle of consent."

Let's have a wee bit of sense. Gerry Adams

Outgoing Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams left Downing Street following his own discussions with the Prime Minister. He denied there was "glorification of anyone at the Ard Fheis".

"I also, standing outside the office of the British Prime Minister, want to refute the use of this term 'terrorism,'" he added.

"Pejorative terms like that, which are about the sons and daughters of families, husbands and wives of families, who happened to serve in the Irish Republican Army and who died in the conflict, I don't use those terms.

"So let's have a wee bit of sense about this."

A way forward can be found. Theresa May

Asked about the difficulties in striking a deal with the British government, Mr Adams added: "I'm too long going in and out of this place to let anything annoy me.

"I understand how change works, it works when those who want change are prepared to engage with those who don't want change and persuade them it is in everybody's interests."

Prime Minister Theresa May was more upbeat saying it was "imperative" talks resumed.

"I believe a way forward can be found," she said.

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