Arlene Foster has said the DUP wants “truth and transparency” in government but believes a long list of grievances aired by Sinn Fein figures is playing “high stakes politics” with Northern Ireland’s stability.
The outgoing first minister was speaking following public statements made by high-profile Sinn Fein members including Mairtin O Muilleoir and Conor Murphy.
During a number of radio interviews, the senior republicans accused their DUP Executive partners of “failing to show respect” – ultimately leading to the resignation of the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Mrs Foster, who was effectively removed as first minister when Mr McGuinness stood down, said what was initially a row over the handling of the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme had been exacerbated by Sinn Fein.
“Even if we were to address all of the problems that flowed from the RHI it is clear that Sinn Fein have additional concerns which they are attempting to introduce into discussions on their own terms,” she said.
“Attempting to frame negotiations in a way that is acceptable to one party only cannot be the basis for successful discussions.”
Speaking on the BBC Talkback programme on Tuesday, outgoing Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir said his party was taking a stand against “corruption and sectarian arrogance” and cited the following as examples of the DUP’s bad faith:
• Gregory Campbell mocking the Irish language with his “curry my yoghurt” remarks
• The renaming of an inland fisheries boat from Banríon Uladh to Queen of Ulster
• The withdrawal of Liofa Irish language grants by DUP Communities Minister Paul Givan
• What Mr O Muilleoir called having “nationalist traditions traduced”
• ‘Parity of esteem’ having been “trampled upon, spitting in the faces of those who held out the hand of reconciliation”.
Mr O Muilleoir also said the DUP was deliberately delaying legacy inquests from being held and added: “The message that we bring here today is that this is about corruption and sectarian arrogance and both have to be tackled in the time ahead.”
In his resignation letter on Monday, Mr McGuinness also referred to the “shameful disrespect” shown by the DUP towards “women, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities”.
Following news of the resignation, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: “In spite of the provocation, disrespect and arrogance from the DUP ... Martin McGuinness has always put the people and the political process first.”
Conor Murphy said the basic principles of respect were essential before Sinn Fein would re-enter a power-sharing executive with the DUP following a new Assembly election.
“We want a return to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, around power-sharing, around respect, around equality, around propriety in government, we don’t want to see a corruption of those principles and we don’t want to see corruption at the heart of government,” the Newry & Armagh MLA added.