The influence of Gerry Adams, who has no direct electoral mandate in Northern Ireland, should be used to restore the power-sharing rather than allowing “internal issues” currently troubling Sinn Fein to jeopardise the institutions, Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
The DUP MP said it was evident that Sinn Fein’s Stormont leadership transition from Martin McGuinness to Michelle O’Neill “is part of the difficulty for the peace process at the moment”.
Mr Donaldson said he believes Sinn Fein made a decision “that they need some time out from government to fix their direction” in relation to where they are going as a political movement.
“That creates a problem for everyone,” he said.
Mr Donaldson added: “It means that with the mandate that Sinn Fein have, if they are not prepared to go into government then they are holding the rest of the political parties to ransom – and by extension they are holding the rest of Northern Ireland to ransom.
“We are very concerned about this, and we want to see a government up and running as soon as possible, but I think it is going require Gerry Adams to assert his authority within Sinn Fein and to bring that party into government.
“I think many of the people who voted for Sinn Fein in the recent election voted for progress – they want to see Stormont up and running – to see the political parties resolving the issues.”
Referring to Mr Adams’ ‘Trojan horse’ comments in 2014 – when he said the republican strategy around equality issues was to ‘break these b*****ds,’ Mr Donaldson said: “It’s all very well for Sinn Fein to say that equality is the Trojan horse, equality can only come if people are in government and can deliver the changes that are required in our society, and can deliver on what is needed to ensure Northern Ireland benefits from Brexit.
“They must decide if they want to be a party of protest or a party of government ... what will deliver best for the people they represent?”