Dodds urges SF to re-think DUP language deal

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has called on Sinn Fein to reconsider his party’s “common sense proposal” to restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

Writing in the House Magazine – a publication for MPs and peers – Mr Dodds claimed “the Ulster people are... being pushed to the brink” by the “narrow political interests” of republicans.

And he warned that direct rule is “inevitable” unless a deal is done to save the power-sharing institutions, which collapsed in January.

The current political impasse centres around Sinn Fein’s demands for a stand-alone Irish language act.

Last month, DUP leader Arlene Foster proposed a compromise: her party would promise to bring a language and culture act into being, but devolved government should be restored immediately, and the exact details of the act can be thrashed out – according to a deadline – once government is restored.

The proposal was immediately rejected by Sinn Fein, but Mr Dodds has urged republicans to rethink their position.

“We are not saying that issues of language and culture do not matter, but put simply, other issues matter more,” he added.

“That is why we have proposed a solution which would see the establishment of an Executive and the creation of legislation to protect all the cultures and traditions Northern Ireland has to offer.”

Mr Dodds added: “I call our proposal ‘common sense’ because it was the way any other legislature would deal with a similar issue. Sinn Féin wants the Irish language protected in legislation.”

The North Belfast MP said people across Northern Ireland are being “adversely impacted” by the current political situation.

“We should not permit one political demand to get in the way of much needed health and education reforms or decisions to grow our economy,” he added.

“Therefore it makes sense for a draft bill to be tabled in the Assembly. Let MLAs debate it, scrutinise it, propose amendments to it and ultimately pass it. That’s democracy. That’s how sound legislation is made.”