A senior Orange Order leader has declined to offer any comment on the possibility of a political deal involving a hybrid Irish language/Ulster-Scots culture act.
Orange Order Grand Secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson told the News Letter he would not discuss the ongoing political talks.
“We will not be speculating on the talks,” he said, adding that the order’s position on an Irish language act is well known.
When asked about the position on a possible hybrid Irish language and Ulster-Scots act, he said the order’s position was made very clear in a published statement in September.
It was titled: ‘We have no quarrel with Irish but will not back any reward for use of the language in the SF-IRA cultural war’.
When it was pointed out to Mr Gibson that the September statement made no mention of a hybrid act and only referred to an Irish language act, he declined to make any further comment.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told the Press Association that the fate of the talks is too close to call and that it is “a work in progress”.
“It would be wrong to call it either way,” he said. “There are still gaps. I would like to see it up and running again for the sake of the people.”
Stewart Dickson, a member of the Alliance Party talks team, said that as far as he was aware “nothing is happening” in the talks.
He hoped a deal could be done, but insisted that it would have to include more than the DUP and Sinn Fein.
“Any deal will have to result in a stable Executive with reform of the petition of concern,” he told the News Letter. “We will not be bounced into something just because Sinn Fein and the DUP agree on it.”
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll warned that the return of Arlene Foster as first minister would be a “betrayal” in light of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.
“Should she return to her position as first minister, this will be rightly seen as a betrayal by those who said there would be no return to the status quo,” he said.