Sinn Fein accuses Brokenshire of ‘waffle, waffle and more waffle’

Gerry Adams and Michelle ONeill talk to the media at Stormont after talks with Secretary of State James Brokenshire
Gerry Adams and Michelle ONeill talk to the media at Stormont after talks with Secretary of State James Brokenshire

Sinn Fein have blasted Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire for delivering nothing but “waffle, waffle, waffle” to the Stormont crisis talks.

Michelle O’Neill, who has replaced Martin McGuinness as leader of the party in the Province, said she cut a meeting short with Mr Brokenshire because of the “waffle”.

James Brokenshire came under pressure from Sinn Fein over funding for legacy inquests

James Brokenshire came under pressure from Sinn Fein over funding for legacy inquests

Meanwhile, DUP party leader Arlene Foster met with her MLAs for the first time since the election, and following the meeting declared herself “delighted” with the support she had received from her colleagues.

Talks are being held between Stormont’s political parties and the secretary of state in a bid to restore the power-sharing executive.

Parties have just three weeks to reach a deal.

One of the main issues raised by Sinn Fein with Mr Brokenshire was the need for financial assistance to deal with inquests into deaths during the Troubles.

“We needed a fundamental change in approach from the British government,” said Ms O’Neill.

“We made that very clear to James Brokenshire today. All he did was waffle, waffle and more waffle in relation to how we are going to go forward and give families what they need, which is access to due process as per the request of the Lord Chief Justice,” Ms O’Neill said.

She added: “We called the meeting to an end because we had more waffle. We called the meeting short and asked him to go and reflect on that.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said that money for legacy inquests had been set aside, at the request of the Lord Chief Justice, as part of a previous Stormont agreement, known as the Fresh Start Agreement.

He added: “Some families have been waiting 45 years.

“This affects all victims regardless of who the perpetrators have been. They need to get those inquests under way.

“They have been delayed, stopped and prevented because the British refuse to give the funds.

“(On Monday) (Mr Brokenshire) said he would reflect on that. It is clear that if he had reflected he had come to no good conclusion.”

Sinn Fein has met with the DUP and further meetings are planned, said Mr Adams.

He added this was an indication that issues were being tackled.

On Friday, Sinn Fein’s national chairman Declan Kearney had told the News Letter the UK government should remove the “blockage” to ensuring “maximum information disclosure” relating to the Troubles.

It was put to him that the IRA discloses next to no information about its own crimes, and was asked how there could be reciprocation.

“I speak on behalf of Sinn Fein,” he said.

“Sinn Fein’s position is we’d much prefer to see an international, neutral, independent truth and reconciliation commission established.”

However, in the absence of that, he said there are “mechanisms” for dealing with the past under existing agreements, but that the UK government is not fulfilling its role in implementing these.