20/03/2019

SF: SoS Will Not Attempt To Restore Power-Sharing Before Elections

Sinn Fein has claimed that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley has no plans to attempt to resolve the Stormont impasse until after the local elections in May.

Party Vice-President Michelle O'Neill made the comments following a phone call with Mrs Bradley, in which she confirmed her intention to extend her legal obligation to call a fresh Assembly election.

Mrs Bradley is obliged to call an election if devolved ministers are not in place by the end of March, but a measure in legislation introduced last year incorporates an option to extend that deadline by five months.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill was aimed at allowing time and space for political parties to agree to a return to government, allocating a five-month period when this can be done without further legislation or an Assembly election.

Mrs O'Neill said the Government's reliance on the DUP is the "single biggest impediment" to the restoration of power-sharing, and also criticised Parliament for not acting on issues such as Marriage Equality, an Irish Language Act, legacy bodies and compensation for abuse victims.
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"I spoke to the British Secretary of State by phone today and she confirmed that her government will not be making any attempt to restore the power-sharing institutions prior to the local government elections on May 2nd. She also confirmed that she intends to extend by five months the legislation she introduced last year as her supposed plan to restore the institutions. Since then, her government has done absolutely nothing to resolve the issues at the heart of the impasse. Can we expect the same for the next five months?

"Once again, the British Government has shown that it is prepared to legislate when it suits the British Government but refuses to act on issues like Marriage Equality, Acht Gaeilge, the legacy bodies and compensation for victims of institutional abuse."

The Mid Ulster MLA accused the UK Government of being "wholly reliant on the DUP" to cling to power. "This toxic relationship, alongside Brexit, has become the biggest impediment to restoring the power-sharing institutions on the basis of genuine equality and respect.

"The DUP are at complete odds with the cross-community majority of MLAs and public here who oppose their reckless Brexit agenda and their ongoing refusal to treat all citizens equally.

"Power-sharing can and should be restored but that will require Karen Bradley's government finally confronting the DUP's discriminatory agenda and upholding their own responsibilities to citizens and the equality of treatment."



(JG/CM)

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