David Burnside: Hardline Michelle O’Neill insulted the intelligence of the Ulster Fry audience

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill, left, at the Ulster fry breakfast at Manchester Town Hall on Tuesday with others including DUP leader Arlene Foster, right, during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

In 45 years attending the Conservative Party Conference I have never heard such an extreme list of Irish republican demands as those delivered by Sinn Fein assembly leader Michelle O’Neill.

She insulted the intelligence of the audience at the Ulster Fry breakfast by declaring that Northern Ireland is not British.

Letter to the editor

She listed a series of demands on the Irish language, so called equal rights and undermining of British sovereignty in Northern Ireland in relation to Brexit.

In offering condolences to the people of Manchester for recent acts of terrorism forgot to show any remorse/regret from her own organisation IRA/Sinn Fein’s terrorism just down the road at Warrington.

If the DUP and Sinn Fein cannot put together a deal at Stormont soon and the parties at Stormont are not prepared to seek a cross party coalition without Sinn Fein, it would be better to move towards direct rule.

Direct rule does not have to be unaccountable to the elected politicians and people of Northern Ireland.

With the DUP keeping the Conservatives in power for at least the length of this Parliament, why can’t the prime minister then seek to broaden the ministerial team at Stormont to include unionists and cross benchers from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in a broad based team of talent?

Time allocated for Northern Ireland questions, ministerial statements and business should be increased at Westminster in both the Commons, Lords and at Select Committee level.

MLAs should be offered a role in a consultative forum at Stormont where ministers can take account of the views of local politicians on policy issues and the role of Stormont should be demoted to being a consultative rather than a legislative assembly which institutionally is no longer workable.

If after five years the consultative role is working there might be an attempt to establish a voluntary coalition style of devolution but better to democratise direct rule than give in to Sinn Fein’s extreme demands.

David W B Burnside, The Hill, Secon, Ballymoney

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