Arlene Foster: Sinn Fein not interested in devolution

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster

Sinn Fein has no interest in working to break Stormont’s political deadlock, Arlene Foster has said.

After months of impasse and a series of missed deadlines to re-establish a devolved executive the DUP leader has accused the republican party of being unwilling to compromise or build a shared future for all communities in Northern Ireland.

She said talks aimed at restoring powersharing will restart at the end of August but added that she has reached “the conclusion that Sinn Fein are not interested in devolution”.

The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein remain at loggerheads over a range of issues.

Sticking points include the shape of legislation to protect Irish language speakers, the DUP’s opposition to lifting the region’s ban on same-sex marriage, and mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Talks between the parties were postponed for the summer after they failed to reach agreement.

“The talks will begin again in earnest at the end of August.

“But given some of the commentary over the summer from Sinn Fein it does point to me that Sinn Fein aren’t interested in devolution or an agreement with their neighbours in Northern Ireland,” said Mrs Foster.

She accused Sinn Fein of showing “no spirit of compromise” and “no willingness to build a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland”.

“It’s their way or no way. We want to see devolution but it takes two to make this work and if they don’t want to make it work then we will have to move on to a different situation,” said Mrs Foster.

She added: “We can’t keep going on and on. There’s a growing frustration.

“I regretfully have come to the conclusion that Sinn Fein aren’t interested in devolution.”

The bitter political rift between Stormont’s two largest parties has left the region without a first and deputy first minister since January and a functioning executive since March.

Sinn Fein continues to insist that the Stormont institutions could be restored within a matter of days.

On Monday Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy said: “It is our clear view, and we have been saying this since January, and we have been as frustrated as I am sure the general public watching, that these issues could be resolved within a matter of days.

“It is very clear what the issues are - it is very clear where the gaps are. It’s around rights-based issues.

“We have no interest in getting into a very protracted process which is just about process itself and nothing else.”