The UK Government should let the parties willing to govern Northern Ireland “get on with the job” if Sinn Fein continues to opt out, Sammy Wilson has said.
The DUP MP for East Antrim said the prospects of restoring devolution look bleak unless the “veto Sinn Fein currently holds” is removed.
Mr Wilson was commenting after Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused the DUP of “refusing to face realities” about the UK Government’s attitude towards the Union.
Writing in the Andersonstown News, Mr Adams said: “The rationale behind the DUP stance is that it is focused on maintaining the Union but there is no longer any absolute protection for the Union from British Governments the way there used to be.
“British Government involvement in our affairs will end when a majority vote for that. That is why the Irish government’s recent assertions about Irish unity are welcome.”
The Sinn Fein leader added: “The call by the DUP leader for a return to British direct rule flies in the face of her party’s devolutionist position.
“But it also reflects a refusal to face realities. The fact is the DUP is betraying the people of the north and the clear vote against Brexit. In particular, it is acting against the interest of a section of its own support base, particularly in the agri-food sector which will take a huge hit if Brexit goes through”.
MP Sammy Wilson said: “The latest comments from the outgoing Sinn Fein president lead me to paraphrase Donald Trump – ‘Gerry Adams is about to lose his job, but appears to have already lost his mind.’ There is no doubt that he’s already lost his memory because the current impasse is entirely a result of Sinn Fein’s actions in collapsing the Executive and blocking its restoration. If he really is concerned about the poor, homeless and sick then he will join with other parties in returning to the Executive without preconditions rather than the mindless pursuit of squandering money on an Irish language act at all costs.”
Mr Wilson added: “Since his rhetoric at the start of 2018 is no different to the end of 2017 the prospects for restoring devolution look bleak unless the UK Government removes the veto Sinn Fein currently holds by ensuring that if they refuse to participate then other parties can get on with the job of providing government for Northern Ireland.”
Also responding to the Adams’ statement, Lord Empey said: “The protection for the Union rests with the people of Northern Ireland expressing their will democratically, something that Gerry Adams and the IRA have been fighting against for decades. Sinn Fein and the IRA relied on terrorism to promote their united Ireland agenda and failed.”
The UUP peer added: “London is under an obligation, both moral and legal, to respect the will of the people here and support the Union. However unwelcome that is to Gerry Adams, it is the reality.”
Meanwhile, DUP MP for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell has reiterated his belief that Sinn Fein is unwilling to enter fresh talks, let alone strike a deal.
“When I stated after Christmas that a new date for talks would be set in early January, Sinn Fein responded very quickly and very negatively to that,” he said.
“It is possible that their reaction may well have hampered any chance that fresh talks could begin in the coming days. Perhaps the Northern Ireland Office has decided to put it on the longer finger.”
In a statement to the News Letter earlier this week, a NIO spokesperson said: “The secretary of state’s priority continues to be the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.”