Time has come for SF to ‘get realistic’

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A senior DUP MP has declared it is time for Sinn Fein to “get realistic” as the talks aimed at restoring devolution enter a critical phase.

Secretary James Brokenshire has warned the British government will have to pass legislation to set a budget for Northern Ireland if no agreement on powersharing is reached this month.

Earlier this week, DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that “solid progress” was being made in negotiations with Sinn Fein.

However, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has told the News Letter there is “no chance” of a deal unless republicans are prepared to relinquish their calls for an Irish language act.

“Michelle O’Neill has made it clear that Sinn Fein has not moved one iota from its unrealistic and unreasonable demands for an Irish language act,” he added.

The East Antrim MP said Mrs Foster, as party leader, was trying to “maintain and generate optimism” around the prospects for a political breakthrough.

But he added that the only way there could be a positive outcome in the talks is if Sinn Fein backs down from its stance on the Irish language.

Mr Wilson said: “Sinn Fein has boxed itself into a corner and the time has come for them to get realistic.”

Party colleague Gregory Campbell highlighted that the talks process was now entering a “critical point”, adding: “The cold hard fact is that, unless an agreement to restore the NI Executive is reached by mid-October, the Secretary of State will be forced to take action and set a budget for the coming financial year.

“There is no wriggle left. Either we will get an agreement by mid-October to allow devolution to be restored, or the Secretary of State will have no choice but to step in.”

Mr Campbell said he remained “hopeful” that a deal could be struck.

Speaking yesterday, DUP leader Mrs Foster said it was “in the best interests of Northern Ireland and the Union to have a functioning Assembly and influence in our national parliament”.