Sinn Fein ‘in for a surprise’ on direct rule issue, says DUP MP

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald is “about to get a surprise”, after she proclaimed direct rule for NI was not an option.

Following a meeting with Taioseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday, the Sinn Fein president called for the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to be convened in the absence of power-sharing at Stormont.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald

She claimed direct rule from Westminster is “not acceptable”, adding: “We have been clear – nationalism right across the country is clear on that point, the government in Dublin is clear on that point and I have to say that we have previous words from both governments which made very clear that direct rule is not the answer when the institutions falter.”

But the DUP has urged the Secretary of State to urgently take charge of Northern Ireland’s finances to protect public services.

Lagan Valley MP Mr Donaldson said Dublin “does not have a say” in the interanl affairs of the Province.

“I think Mary Lou is about to get a surprise,” he told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme today.

“The Belfast Agreement, whatever its deficiencies, makes absolutely clear that on internal matters it is between the UK Government and the political parties of NI.

“If the Irish Government wants to tear up the Belfast Agreement and rewrite it then let them say so.”

Mr Donaldson also accused Sinn Fein of “wanting Northern Ireland to be ungovernable”.

He added: “They are currently vetoing a government being formed and are now telling us that they dont want the government of the UK governing NI.

“We need ministers in place to take decisions and if Sinn Fein aren’t prepared to govern thn someone has to do it.”

After talks aimed at salvaging devolution collapsed last Wednesday, Sinn Fein leader Ms McDonald claimed the two main parties had reached a draft agreement – which included an Irish language act – but that the DUP had been unable to close the deal.

The DUP has denied a draft deal had been in place.

Mr Donaldson added: “Sinn Fein can play that old record as many times as they like but there wasn’t an agreement. I can look you in the eye and say to every single person in Northern Ireland; we didnt have an agreement. The documents will prove that to be the case.”