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North war of words

Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Féin.


By Evan Short

A new war of words has broken out between Sinn Féin and the DUP after the republican party’s northern leader said her party was ready for a new round of talks.

Michelle O’Neill was speaking after revealed they had written to the British and Irish governments proposing the talks and calling on them to have a strict deadline for resolution.

However, this has been described by a senior DUP politician as a “stunt”. Simon Hamilton said his party had been ready to reform the executive for months and it was Sinn Féin holding up progress.

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Sinn Féin say they won’t go back into power until already agreed issues such as a the introduction of an Irish language act agreed at earlier talks are implemented – something the DUP has refused to do.

"With limited engagement since the talks concluded on 4th July, I am keen to formally re-engage at the earliest opportunity in order to re-establish an Executive and power sharing institutions on a proper and sustainable footing,” said Mrs O’Neill.

"Moreover, I do not believe there is much public appetite, or need, for another drawn-out phase of talks.

"In this context, and with an eagerness to resolve outstanding issues, I am also formally proposing that this round of talks be focused and time limited."

But former minister Simon Hamilton took to social media to reject this call.

“Sinn Féin wants talks. DUP ready to form Executive 5 months ago. SF blocking key decisions on health, eduction and infrastructure. Let’s get Executive formed and deal with negotiations in parallel. Govt. in Northern Ireland can’t be held to ransom for a political wish list.”

He also used the hashtag #SFstunt.

The Assembly collapsed in January after the late Martin McGuinness resigned from the role of Deputy First Minister over the First Minister’s refusal to step aside while her role into a botched government subsidy scheme which has the potential to cost taxpayers half a billion pounds was investigated.

He also accused the DUP of “arrogance” in government.