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Sinn Fein to have ‘no demands’ for nomination of next First Minister

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Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard has confirmed the party will have “no demands” ahead of a new DUP First Minister being nominated once Paul Givan steps down.

Mr Hazzard told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme that the party has “no shopping list” and described the situation in the DUP as being “farcical” if it “wasn’t so serious”.

Mr Givan was ratified as Northern Ireland’s First Minister on Thursday, however his time in the post is set to be short, with party officers within the DUP advising him he will be required to step down when the new leader is in post.

Due to the rules of Stormont, the resignation of Mr Givan as first Minister will once again force Michelle O’Neill to step down as deputy First Minister and start the clock on another nomination period to restore the Executive.

The crisis with the DUP emerged on Thursday following an early morning deal reached with the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Sinn Fein over the Irish language.

Sinn Fein approached Mr Lewis about the issue, accusing the DUP of reneging on commitments made the in New Decade, New Approach agreement that restored power sharing to Stormont in January 2020.

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Outgoing leader Edwin Poots argued he was committed to implementing the full cultural package of the agreement, but said he was not willing to agree to Sinn Fein’s timetable before the next Assembly election in May.

“There is no doubt the DUP have caught themselves in a cul-de-sac of their own making over recent years,” said Mr Hazzard.

“We have to remember It was gay conversion therapy that brought Arlene Foster down and it was delivering on Irish language rights that brought Edwin Poots down.

“That is a really sorry state of affairs.

“People who said Sinn fein pushed this week and were too hasty around the Irish language act - are they serious?

“Irish language rights will be delivered in this mandate and that is because Sinn Fein went around the DUP.

“We went round the DUP we went to the British government. We didn’t go cap in hand...we told the British government across the negotiation table they had this responsibility. The British government agreed.”

When challenged over whether Sinn Fein was “imperiling” devolution by forcing the Westminster government to act on Irish language, Mr Hazzard rejected the claim.

“It is not the delivery of rights that is imperiling devolution it is those who are incapable of delivering rights,” he added.

“There is no basis to power sharing unless people keep to their word and implement those agreements. There was an agreement made 15 months ago we want to see that agreement implemented in full.

“How ironic is it, the talk about bringing down the Stormont government in this centenary year, that the DUP’s next campaign is going to be ‘smash Stormont? The DUP are at a crossroads now, there is no going backwards.

“We will have no demands other than that people are faithful to agreements and commitments made.”


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