Further moves to direct rule 'inevitable,' says DUP's Foster ahead of PM meeting
Leaders to meet over Stormont stasis and Brexit
DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that while she wants devolution in Northern Ireland restored further moves toward direct rule appear "inevitable" unless there is a change in direction in talks.
Mrs Foster was speaking ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street on Tuesday. As well as local politics they will also talk about Brexit, with the DUP leader emphasising Northern Ireland will leave the EU with the UK and Brussels "must not abuse Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip”.
She said: “We want to speak with the Prime Minister about the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland and also about securing the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom as we exit the European Union.
The Secretary of State was right to legislate for our budget in London. Further steps now look inevitable unless there is a change of direction
The DUP and Sinn Fein have been engaged in talks to restore devolution to Northern Ireland since the republican party pulled down the institutions in January.
“I want to see local Ministers making decisions about Northern Ireland," Mrs Foster continued, "but we cannot continue without a ministerial-led government.
"The Secretary of State was right to legislate for our budget in London. Further steps now look inevitable unless there is a change of direction."
Since the collapse of government in Northern Ireland the DUP found themselves as power brokers in Westminster and secured a £1.5bn confidence and supply deal with the Theresa May's government in order to allow the Prime Minister to operate a minority government.
"We continue to work with Her Majesty’s Government, Sinn Fein and the other Northern Ireland parties towards restoring a local Executive," continued Mrs Foster.
"The DUP has no red lines and would have formed the Executive many months ago. The people I represent are frustrated that Sinn Fein is blocking devolution. Bread and butter decisions are being disrupted. Health, education and infrastructure spending is being hampered because SF is focused on a narrow political agenda.”
To suggest that exiting the EU will bring violence onto our streets is downright careless.
On the Brexit talks Mrs Foster said she was committed to getting the best for Northern Ireland but there would be no border in the Irish sea dividing the country from the rest of the UK. There has been suggestions a return of a border in Ireland would harm the peace process.
“The people of Northern Ireland delivered peace and stability," she added. "Yes, they were supported beyond these shores but to suggest that exiting the EU will bring violence onto our streets is downright careless.
"Northern Ireland will exit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not countenance a border in the Irish Sea. I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment on this point. The GB market is not only critical for Northern Ireland but for the Republic of Ireland. We want to see a sensible arrangement that can work for all concerned. The democratic wishes of the British people must be implemented.
"Those in Dublin and Brussels, recklessly trying to use Northern Ireland for their own objectives, should cease. The Prime Minister should warn Brussels that Northern Ireland must not be used as blackmail.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital