Sinn Fein say direct rule is not an option

Sinn Fein's president Mary Lou McDonald. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein's president Mary Lou McDonald. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Fein has urged the British and Irish government to implement previous agreements which they say include an Irish language act, funding for legacy inquests and “safeguarding the right to marriage equality”.

Speaking following a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said: “Over the past 13 months, Sinn Féin has been engaged in negotiations to implement previous agreements, secure the rights of citizens and re-establish the power sharing Executive on the basis of equality and respect.

“We reached a draft agreement with the DUP leadership. We were disappointed that the DUP walked away from that draft agreement and ended the talks process.

“We cannot allow a political vacuum to develop or tolerate the continued denial of rights of citizens.

“The talks process has been collapsed. Direct rule is not an option. The two governments must now act.

“The Good Friday Agreement provides for a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to reflect the co-equal and co-guarantor status of the two governments.

“The two governments must initiate this conference as a matter of urgency and move to implement previous agreements. These include an Irish Language Act, the release of funds for legacy inquests and progress the legacy mechanisms, as well as safeguarding the rights of citizens including the right to marriage equality.”

Following his meeting with SF yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke with PM Theresa May, re-iterating that the Irish government does not want to see direct rule.

A No 10 spokesperson said both parties expressed their disappointment an agreement had not yet been reached to restore an Executive.

The spokesperson added: “The Prime Minister said she believed there was scope for agreement and reiterated the UK Government’s priority was still to get devolution up and running again in Northern Ireland.”

The Taoiseach said in a statement: “The Government’s firm position is that the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent Agreements must be implemented in full, and in this context the Taoiseach and Tánaiste re-iterated that the Irish Government does not want to see the introduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland.”