The DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has warned Sinn Fein the people of Northern Ireland expect them to secure an agreement, ahead of renewed talks on Monday to try to form a government.
The republican party, meanwhile, struck a defiant tone and urged the government to “stop pandering to the DUP” if there is any hope for the restoration of power-sharing.
Political parties are due to participate in a renewed talks process in a bid to resolve the Stormont crisis.
A deadline to form a power-sharing Executive was missed after Sinn Fein said last Monday it would not nominate a deputy first minister.
Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said then that talks had come to the “end of the road”.
However, speaking before a Sinn Fein strategy conference in Dublin yesterday, Ms O’Neill said the party “remain focused” on restoring the institutions.
Sir Jeffrey, asked for his thoughts on Sinn Fein’s approach to the negotiations, said: “I think that all of the parties need to recognise that they’ve been given a mandate to form a government.
“While we won’t run away from an election, if there is one, or indeed if the outcome is a period of direct rule, neither of those outcomes are what the people of Northern Ireland want.
“What people want is a stable government and I think Sinn Fein need to recognise that and they need to be prepared to compromise with the other parties in the interests of getting agreement.”
He said his party’s aim for this week’s round of talks was to secure an agreement.
“We are going into this week determined to try and get a successful outcome and we’re hopeful that the parties will engage constructively, and that we will be able to make progress.
“I think that all the parties recognise the importance of trying to get agreement and I hope that all of the parties will honour the commitments they gave to the people of Northern Ireland to try and form a government. We are not contemplating failure at this stage.”
Mr Donaldson’s comments echo those of DUP leader Arlene Foster, who said the party “stands ready to continue to discuss how we can secure new arrangements for Northern Ireland”.
Ms O’Neill said: “We will be at Stormont tomorrow (Monday) again. Clearly we have a window of a number of weeks and it is time to see real delivery.
“We want to find a way through this. All the parties know what needs to happen. We remain focused to deal with all of that in the days ahead.”
The two main stumbling blocks to the negotiations are legacy issues and Sinn Fein demands for an Irish language act.
The UK and Irish governments have said they want the renewed talks to have an agreed agenda and regular round-table meetings.
Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said he believes there is still a window of opportunity for parties to reach an agreement.