Michelle O'Neill: 'We had reached an accommodation with the DUP leadership'

Politicians have reacted to the statement from DUP leader Arlene Foster.

No deal: DUP leader Arlene Foster's full statement on Stormont talks impasse
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill said: "Sinn Féin over the past 13 months worked to restore the institutions on the basis of respect, integrity and equality for all sections of society.

“When this latest round of talks was announced in January, I said a short, sharp and focussed negotiation was required to resolve the outstanding issues of rights and equality available everywhere else in the islands.

“Sinn Féin engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves.

“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP.

"The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process. These issues are not going away.



“Sinn Féin are now in contact with both governments and we will set out our considered position tomorrow.

“The DUP should reflect on their position.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood expressed anger and disappointment at the statement.

He said: "We have to get back to working together. We have to not allow this moment to be the destruction of all that we have achieved."

Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

He said: "Equally we can't allow this British government or this DUP to think that they are going to govern Northern Ireland on their own. That cannot be allowed to happen.

"The spirit which underpins the Good Friday Agreement is one that recognises we have two communities here, two nationalities, two sets of allegiances and we have to have that recognised in anything that goes after this."

Mr Eastwood said they would be making it clear to "anyone who will listen" that it could not be the "DUP having the whip hand".

The SDLP leader warned that if the institutions fall, it would be "very, very difficult" to get them back up and running.

Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

"It's easy to pull this place down. It's not that easy to put it back together again."

He was also hugely critical of the British government's handling of the political crisis.

Mr Eastwood added: "They have allowed two parties to have complete cover, to have complete control over this process, they have not involved anybody else, it hasn't been transparent.

DUP negotiator Simon Hamilton said Theresa May's visit to Belfast on Monday was unhelpful and a "distraction" from the now-collapsed powersharing talks.

He told reporters: "I think the visit of the Prime Minister and the (Irish) Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar) acted as a bit of a distraction at the beginning of the week, I don't think it was entirely helpful in getting us to reach a successful conclusion but regardless of the intervention, unsuccessful as it was of both prime ministers, significant and serious gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Fein."

Asked if the DUP asked Mrs May not to go to Belfast at such a sensitive stage in talks and why she ignored the advice, Mr Hamilton said: "I am sure as all prime ministers get advice from time to time and they can take that advice or they can ignore that advice.

"Certainly in our view it acted as a distraction, we were unable to build on the progress that we had been making at the end of last week, and I think we have, as I have said before, run out of road in respect of this process."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said: "We are in a very precarious position at this point in time, essentially in uncharted territory.

"We have now no prospect of a deal but also no process in place that could lead to a deal nor do we have any indication of willingness by parties to continue any such process."

She said political investment in devolution had been "swept away" over the most "minor of differences".

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann called for further clarity.

He said: "We need to know and what Northern Ireland clearly needs to know, is the door to devolution now firmly closed or is there still a possibility of it being open?"

And, if Westminster had to impose a budget then go ahead, he added.

"If Her Majesty's government needs to bring in a budget now, let them do it," said Mr Swann.

"They have done it before. So if they need to run a budget so be it, let's get on with it and let's do what we can to get Northern Ireland back up and running again."