Use of Adams proof Sinn Fein on back foot, claims Dodds
The DUP has claimed that campaigning by former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams ahead of tomorrow's local government elections is a sign the party is "under pressure" from its voters to go back to Stormont.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds said that "rolling out" Mr Adams to canvass showed Sinn Fein was "on the back foot".
Mr Adams stood down as leader in February 2018 after more than 34 years in the post but remain a TD for Louth.
In recent days Mr Adams has been campaigning alongside party colleagues in Belfast and Newry.
Sinn Fein has said it will not re-enter a power-sharing government with the DUP until an Irish Language Act is agreed, as well as the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
But North Belfast MP Mr Dodds suggested voters had other concerns.
He said: "Sinn Fein is under pressure and on the back foot as people on the doorsteps demand the restoration of the NI Assembly so decisions about roads, schools and hospitals can be made.
"The DUP has put forward a reasonable proposal to immediately restore the Assembly but in parallel with a talks process to deal with Sinn Fein demands such as the Irish language.
"Most political leaders agree with the DUP. Even Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin recognises that Sinn Fein's blockage of the Assembly and Executive is not justified.
"We recognise that Irish is important to some people but it's not more important than waiting lists or properly resourced schools.
"Holding Northern Ireland to ransom over the Irish language is not acceptable.
"Whilst Sinn Fein now raise other issues on their shopping list, people know there was only ever one priority for Sinn Fein which mattered.
"When the 'new' Sinn Fein leadership is rolling out Gerry Adams, you know they're under pressure."
In response Sinn Fein Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd accused Mr Dodds of trying to distract from the DUP's ongoing denial of rights and pursuit of Brexit against the wishes of the people.
"The DUP's Nigel Dodds is obviously trying to distract the attention of the electorate ahead of Thursday's election.
"The DUP is desperate to create a distraction from its ongoing denial of rights to large sections of the community, RHI and the numerous other financial scandals it has been involved in, and its complete disregard and disdain for the democratically expressed views of the people of the north on Brexit as it blindly follows the lead of the Tories.
"It is also ironic that Nigel Dodds now seems happy with the ill-informed and ill-thought commentary of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin on the North.
"Both are equally disconnected with the reality of politics on the ground.
"Nigel Dodds and the DUP seem incapable of getting their heads round the fact that citizens everywhere else in these islands have rights and public services at the same time.
"Sinn Fein remains committed to securing both. No citizen should be left behind."