The DUP will not return to the negotiating table until Sinn Fein adopt a “fair and realistic” approach to ending the deadlock at Stormont, a senior party figure has declared.
Republicans made a last-ditch appeal at the weekend for their power-sharing partners to get back into government in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald urged the DUP to reconsider its position on proposals to end the 13-month stalemate, adding: “We have a draft agreement. Come back and talk to us and get that over the line.”
But DUP MP Gregory Campbell has stated that his party will not be engaging in further talks unless SF are prepared to alter their terms.
The East Londonderry MP told the News Letter: “Sinn Fein have made out that a deal was almost done and that a draft agreement was in place. Let me be clear, there was no draft deal.
“We want to resume talks to try and get devolution back up and running, but we also want a fair and reasonable settlement.
“Sinn Fein has given no indication that is what they are aiming for. They only want an agreement on their terms.”
Negotiations between the Province’s two biggest parties were reportedly at a critical stage when DUP leader Arlene Foster effectively pulled the plug on Wednesday.
The DUP leader called on the UK government to set a budget and start making policy decisions for Northern Ireland.
However, Sinn Fein has insisted direct rule from Westminster is not an option.
“Direct rule would be entirely unacceptable to us, unacceptable to nationalist opinion across the country, particularly in the north and if anybody thinks or thought that by crashing this process they would return to the bosom of direct rule, they got it wrong,” Mrs McDonald added.
But Mr Campbell said the onus is now on Westminster to ensure some form of stable governance in NI.
“The secretary of state cannot prevaricate any longer”, he added.
“A budget needs to be set this coming week, and once that is done the government must decide what course of action regarding the appointment of ministers.”
After talks to restore devolution ended in failure, Sinn Fein claimed the DUP had torpedoed a draft deal that would have legislated for the protection of Irish.
The mooted agreement, according to Mrs McDonald, would have included the creation of an Irish language commissioner, official recognition of the minority language, and the repeal of the ban on Irish in the courts.
It is also claimed that DUP negotiators were prepared to concede a republican justice minister, perhaps as early as 2022.