Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein reveal details of DUP deal: Irish and Ulster Scots language acts, Petition of Concern review and justice ministry change

There was no deal to put to party: Arlene Foster

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has laid out some of the details of the agreement, she claims, her party had reached with the DUP last week before the talks collapse.

She said it included an Irish Language Act, an Ulster Scots Act and a Respecting Language and Diversity Act. She said that while there was no "meetings of minds" on same-sex marriage, there was a recognition no one party could table a petition of concern and the matter would likely be considered by a private members bill.

There was also agreement to review the "abuse" of the Petition of Concern and establishing a committee to look at the Bill of Rights, she said.

DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, however, rejected there was a deal in place she could put to her party officers for consideration. While DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the Sinn Fein "propaganda machine was in full flow".

The Prime Minister expressed her disappointment at the breakdown.

Mrs McDonald also said that the justice ministry would have become part of the usual d'hondt selection for the parties by 2022. It has been excluded from the usual allocation of ministries with the parties agreeing to an individual outside their groups holding the position. Alliance leader David Ford and independent unionist Claire Sugden have both been ministers since the powers were devolved in 2010.

Dublin TD McDonald said there would be no quotas on Irish speakers for jobs, nor would the language be forced on anyone. She did however, say it included official recognition of Irish, creation of an Irish Language Commissioner and the repeal of the ban on Irish in the courts to be legislated for.

She said the current phase of the talks was over.

"We advised the DUP leadership that the deal should be closed before those opposed to it could unpick what we had achieved," she said.

READ MORE: Sinn Fein reveal details of DUP deal: Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill full statement

"We made it clear that if there was a delay there was every chance that the package would unravel.

"The DUP failed to close the deal and went on to collapse the talks process."

Mrs McDonald said they would not disclose all the details of the deal to honour any future confidentiality should the talks restart, but they would provide both the British and Irish governments with the full text.

Michelle O'Neill said had the agreement been honoured, they would have been in government today.

She called on the two governments to honour past commitments and for the British/Irish governmental conference to be re-convened.

"Given that the DUP leadership has now prevented this the two governments must now move ahead to implement existing agreements on legacy and an Irish Language Act and meet their obligations for equality, by bringing forward legislation on marriage equality."

The DUP has been asked for a comment.

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