North’s leaders deadlocked in New Year messages
Direct rule should be reimposed on Northern Ireland within weeks if the region’s two largest political parties cannot reach agreement on sharing power, DUP leader Arlene Foster has insisted.
Northern Ireland has been without a government for a year after then Deputy First Minister, the late Martin McGuinness, withdrew Sinn Fein – necessitating an election – over the DUP leader Arlene Foster’s handling of a green energy scheme (renewable heat initiative) that left a £490m hole in Northern Ireland’s finances.
Mrs Foster, whose DUP MPs are keeping Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party in power in the Commons, said the return of “locally elected and accountable politicians” is still the best way to run Northern Ireland.
“A return to direct rule would be an inferior alternative, but it would be a government (and) the people of Northern Ireland deserve a government.
“If Sinn Fein persist with their intransigence then the Secretary of State [James Brokenshire] should move to appoint direct rule ministers early in the New Year.”
“Let’s set ourselves a short time frame. And let’s do it here at home, rather than in some fancy English stately home.”
The leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, who was handpicked by Martin McGuinness as his successor, said her party will only return to power sharing with the DUP if the party makes concessions on the Irish language and gay, or same sex, marriage rights.
Renewed power sharing was possible, she said, but “only if the institutions represent genuine and equal partnership government for all our people”.
“That will require the British Government and the DUP accepting the political and democratic reality which has already been made abundantly clear by the electorate.”
London and Dublin must “pave a pathway to restore the institutions on the basis of equal partnership and respect in the terms set out almost 20 years ago (in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement),” she said.