Stormont's stalemate was deepening today after First Minister Peter Robinson launched a blistering attack on Gerry Adams.
The DUP leader hit back at Sinn Fein claims he was dragging his feet on talks linked to the transfer of policing powers to Stormont.
Mr Robinson accused Sinn Fein of blocking the work of the Northern Ireland government for their own advantage and said if they were serious about working together he is prepared to cut short his US holiday to chair an Executive meeting.
“Gerry Adams is a block to progress,” he said. “Instead of lecturing the DUP he should stop blocking the transaction of Executive business. The DUP will not be rolling over for him or any Republican.”
The DUP and Sinn Fein are divided over a series of issues including the transfer of policing powers, the introduction of an Irish language act, education reform, the future of the Maze prison site and the continued existence of the IRA’s army council.
Both parties held talks in Downing Street in June and pledged themselves to finding a way forward, but the deadlock between them has persisted and forced the cancellation of two planned meetings of the Stormont Executive.
Earlier this week Mr Adams accused the DUP of refusing to negotiate and said they were heading towards a crisis.
But Mr Robinson said: “Sinn Fein just doesn’t seem to get it. Progress is made and agreements are reached when both sides are content. Adams seems to think that it is the role of everyone to move to his position. That just will not happen.
“The DUP will continue talking until conditions are right for unionists. As far as executive business is concerned it is Sinn Fein who is obstructing progress.”
He added: “When I came into office as First Minister I started work on clearing Executive papers. Over 30 papers are cleared by me and when they are cleared by the Deputy First Minister they form the agenda for an Executive meeting.
“Sinn Fein should get on with it and stop dragging their feet.
“The legal responsibility and duty we have to govern should not be withheld because republicans want to use it to advance their political agenda.”
The Northern Ireland Assembly began its summer recess at the end of June and it is understood that Mr Robinson started a holiday in the US this week.
But in a response to the Sinn Fein leader’s criticisms he said: “If even at this late stage Sinn Fein clear sufficient papers for an Executive meeting to be held I am happy to break into my holiday to be present at that Executive meeting.”