A claim by a Sinn Féin MLA that the party will return to government on April 1 shows that the Stormont stalemate is about Brexit rather than other “contrived issues”, TUV leader Jim Allister has said.
Conor Murphy said on Thursday, while speaking about the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, that his party intends to have ministers in place by the start of the new financial year in April 2019.
“Our intention is to have ministers in place by April 1, our intention is not to sit back here and allow the timetable of drift to be dictated by the British Government and the DUP in terms of their own Brexit interests,” he said.
Sinn Féin was asked to clarify those comments by the News Letter yesterday, but had yet to do so last night.
TUV MLA Jim Allister, however, believes Mr Murphy’s comments reveal the republican party’s “opportunism”.
“I can think of no better date for the return of Stormont than April Fool’s Day,” Mr Allister said. “He has revealed what most of us suspected, that the standoff at Stormont is all about Brexit. It is nothing to do with the other contrived issues. By saying that as soon as we pass the Brexit date they will return, I think he has exposed the transparency and the opportunism that they’re engaged in.”
Mr Allister added: ”For me it doesn’t matter what date they come back on. If they come back to the same failed structures then it is going to be more failure, more of the same.
“A return depends upon a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein and he’s indicating a return date, of course that points to a deal. If so, then there’s duplicity at play because we’re being told there is no deal.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell, meanwhile, said: “Conor Murphy may well want another seven months to hold the country to ransom but that is not acceptable. If Sinn Fein will not end the boycott, then the secretary of state must act to put a decision-making mechanism in place.”
He added: “Sinn Fein should end their boycott. They are holding the whole of Northern Ireland to ransom. Democracy should be respected.”
l Morning View, page 10