09/01/2019

Sinn Fein Optimistic About Restoration Of Govt Two Years On

Two years on from the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive on 09 January 2017, Sinn Fein has expressed optimism that the power-sharing institutions can be restored, but only on the basis of equality.

The Ulster Unionist party, however, has hit out at the "two wasted years" caused by the lack of political responsibility taken by Northern Ireland's two largest parties and called on the Secretary of State to introduce direct rule.

Sinn Fein's Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill reflected on the "heart-breaking yet inspiring day" when Martin McGuiness resigned as Deputy First Minister and effectively collapsed the political institution of Stormont, but added: "It was the right thing to in order to fix what was broken.

"The public deserve to have a functioning government they can have confidence in. A government that guarantees citizens rights and operates on the basis of transparency and integrity. Through all the political breakdown and rancour of the past two years, it can be tempting to believe that the prospects of restoring the Assembly and the Executive in the North are as remote as ever.

"But I believe there is hope for optimism. It is imperative that we arrest the political drift that we are currently in and stop the attempts to unravel the Good Friday Agreement and its political institutions before it becomes unsalvageable."

The mid Ulster MLA slammed the DUP for its part in collapsing any negotiations aimed at the re-establishment of power-sharing, adding: "They are on the wrong side of the popular and political will on the issues of rights, equality and Brexit.

"They are blocking progress from a minority stance and that is not a sustainable position in the longer term. They have been facilitated in this by a British Government which has been robbed of any pretence of impartiality due to its Confidence and Supply arrangement with the DUP at Westminster."

Mrs O'Neill added: "As co-guarantors of our peace and political process, both the Dublin and London governments have a responsibility to ensure that happens.

"The denial of rights must be ended. The equality, mutual respect and all-Ireland approaches enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement must be embraced. The disrespect to Irish national identity and culture must be consigned to the past and the prejudice felt by Women, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities must be eradicated.

"The RHI Inquiry has also exposed the crucial need for reform of how the Assembly and Executive operates in future.
News Image
"None of this is impossible, providing the political will exists. Sinn Féin wants an Assembly which operates differently from what went before. We want to usher in a new kind of politics, which is progressive, respectful, and has integrity. That means promoting the interests of the whole community and upholding our commitment to genuine power-sharing, respect and mutual trust towards one another."

The Ulster Unionist Party chose to mark the two-year anniversary by highlighting the dysfunctionality of Northern Ireland's two largest parties, and called on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to facilitate a transparent talks process aimed at restoring government.

Party leader Robin Swann said: "Where the Assembly could, and should have been working to deliver jobs, delivering for our health service and delivering for our children's education, instead we have seen the DUP and Sinn Fein engaged in a zero sum game, where the people of Northern Ireland are the losers.

"The only way to get this place up and running again is for five party talks to take place. For the negotiations surrounding the Belfast Agreement, parties were invited to take part. Those who wanted to be involved, were involved and those who didn't, self-excluded. The Secretary of State knows what needs to happen and she should have done something about it by now. Instead she seems obsessed with making sure that the DUP and Sinn Fein are satisfied with everything before they get round the table. That approach simply won't work."

The north Antrim MLA also called for direct rule in the absence of ministerial leadership, and hit out at the DUP and Sinn Fein for transferring their political stalemate to local government.

"The people of Northern Ireland deserve government and they deserve accountable and responsible politicians. If that's not going to be from Stormont, then it's going to have to be from Westminster.

"In recent days we have heard rhetoric from both Sinn Fein and the DUP which indicates that they seem intent on transferring the dysfunctionality of their scandal ridden Executive to local councils and sectarianising the forthcoming local government elections. They are feeding off each other in a race to the bottom. That should not be allowed to happen because Northern Ireland and its people both need and deserve something better.

"Local Government served all the people of Northern Ireland through some very difficult and dark times. That role should not be threatened by those who only seek to serve themselves."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 January 2019
DUP Slams 'Nonsense Propaganda' About Irish Hard Border
The deputy leader of the DUP, Nigel Dodds, has met with Prime Minister Theresa May to reiterate his party's opposition to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, and hit out at the "nonsense propaganda" surrounding the possibility of a hard border.
04 January 2019
DUP Launch 'After We Leave' Consultation On Post-Brexit Matters
The DUP has released two public consultation documents relating to Northern Ireland's fishing policy and future regional funds.
23 July 2003
Sinn Fein criticised over sale of 'sniper' t-shirts
Unionists and nationalists have joined forces to condemn contents sold within the revamped Sinn Fein website which was officially launched this week. There was cause for much anger within local political circles following the launch as users can now purchase 'Sniper at Work' and IRA 'Undefeated Army' t-shirts through the party's online store.
29 January 2007
Ard Fheis vote to support policing
Following yesterday's Sinn Fein special conference in Dublin regarding the party's policy on policing, Sinn Fein has voted in favour of becoming involved in policing in Northern Ireland. The decision was reached during the meeting, which was held in the RDS.
12 January 2011
Irish Road Signs Point To Stormont Division
NI politicians are taking divergent routes on a proposal to splash-out on the provision of bilingual road signs.
10 February 2003
Sinn Fein raises concerns over electoral register
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has said that the Irish government is set to raise concerns over what he described as "the disenfranchisement of a large section of the six-county electorate," at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference later this month.
25 September 2001
SDLP warn brinkmanship tactics jeopardise assembly
An SDLP politician has warned that brinkmanship politics by both unionists and republicans is threatening the future of the Good Friday Agreement.
07 August 2002
SF renew attacks on SDLP over policing board
A war of words has erupted between Northern Ireland's two main nationalist and republican parties, with Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy accusing the SDLP of desperately trying to find "political cover" for joining the Policing Board.
30 November 2009
Cowen And Brown Hold Justice Talks
Ireland's prime minister has flown to London in a bid to break the continued deadlock over the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Brian Cowen will meet with UK counterpart Gordon Brown in Downing Street later, amid mounting conflict between the province's two largest political parties.
24 January 2005
Tyrone doctor to stand for West Tyrone seat
The Tyrone doctor who topped the poll during the 2003 West Tyrone Assembly elections has confirmed that he is to stand in this year’s general election. Dr Kieran Deeny declared his intention in Omagh on Monday, saying he wanted to fight for better health services following the Government’s decision to remove acute hospital services from Tyrone.
13 January 2003
May elections to go ahead claims DUP
The DUP have claimed that the government intends to go ahead with assembly elections in May following a meeting with Secretary of State Paul Murphy this morning. DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley said the Mr Murphy had given him assurances during today's hour-long meeting that elections will take place.
19 December 2001
House of Commons votes to allow Sinn Féin offices
The House of Commons has voted to allow the four Sinn Fein members office space and access to allowances enjoyed by other MPs. Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith condemned the decision saying that it would create a two-tier system of MPs.
07 March 2003
SF criticise Ahern over sanctions 'collusion'
Sinn Fein has attacked the Irish government for "colluding" with the British government over sanctions proposals at the Hillsborough talks. Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin voiced his "disappointment" at Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's backing of sanctions for parties who do not live up to their pledges.
23 October 2003
Republicans 'uneasy' over Irish government role
Sinn Fein representative Gerry Kelly has claimed there is a growing sense of unease among republicans at the Irish government's attitude towards efforts at rebuilding the political process.
28 August 2001
Sinn Fein aim to kick start a process to resolve issues
Sinn Fein are to meet with the British Government in a bid to kick start a process to resolve the remaining issues surrounding the Irish and British Governments peace blueprint.