A DUP MP has said he shares the “frustration” of those planning to take part in a series of protests across Northern Ireland today over the lack of government.
Today marks 589 days since Northern Ireland last had a functioning power-sharing government, equal to the world record set by Belgium in 2011 for the longest period of time without an elected government.
A series of protests have been planned across Northern Ireland today, largely via social media, to mark the occasion under the heading ‘#WeDeserveBetter’.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson told the News Letter he shares the frustration of those planning to take part, but put the blame on Sinn Fein “intransigence”.
The protests emerged after an online campaign started by Dylan Quinn, a father of four who runs a dance studio in Co Fermanagh, with a video message that went viral. In the video, Mr Quinn said: “Enough is enough and we deserve better.”
Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Quinn said: “We are all left abandoned and you can’t sit around waiting for these things to get resolved. We need them (politicians) to get back in and talk.”
Mr Wilson said: “The issue is how you can persuade those who have decided they don’t want to be in government to get into government.
“From day one, we would have been back into the Executive again and we would have had a functioning Executive.
“For those people who will be expressing their frustation, there’s nobody more frustrated than ourselves (the DUP).
“We got £1,000 million from the government and there’s no Executive there to spend it. Of course some of it has been spent, but some of it can’t be spent.
“If the people who are out protesting are frustrated, imagine our frustration – we do a deal with the government and find that we can’t get that deal fully implemented because of the intransigence of Sinn Fein.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, meanwhile, said: “For our people to have been left for 589 days without a government is a truly sorry indictment of our politics here. The SDLP have been consistent in calling on the two governments to step up and step in. As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement it is their duty to take the hard issues off the table by allowing Westminster to legislate for marriage equality and language issues, so all parties can get back to work.”
The News Letter has asked Sinn Fein for comment, but no reply had been received at the time of writing.