GERRY KELLY: “POWER SHARING IN CRISI”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said power sharing at Stormont is in crisisContinue reading the main story
He described relations between First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as “not workmanlike”.
On Tuesday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams told the Dáil (Irish parliament) there was a lack of political leadership from Mr Robinson.
In recent months, Sinn Féin and the DUP have clashed over parades and the Maze peace centre.
Last month the DUP withdrew its support for a peace centre at the Maze prison.
Mr Robinson said a decision by Sinn Féin to back a controversial IRA commemoration parade in Castlederg, County Tyrone, in August was a key factor in his decision to shelve the Maze peace project.
There was further controversy on Monday when Peter Robinson accused TUV leader Jim Allister of being prepared to do business with republicans, as executor of a will, over the sale of property in County Fermanagh.
Mr Allister denied he was either the executor or beneficiary of any will.
The first minister was criticised by a number of parties over his remarks, which were described as inappropriate, unacceptable, and sectarian.
Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Sean Lynch said the tone of Mr Robinson’s remarks were “essentially a signal that it is not OK to sell land to Catholics”.
The DUP denied the remarks were sectarian and in a statement said Mr Robinson was simply challenging Mr Allister over his alleged inconsistencies.
The DUP said it was a matter for an individual who they sold their land to.
Speaking on the BBC’s Nolan Show on Wednesday, Mr Kelly accused the DUP of reneging for a second time on plans for the future of the Maze Prison site.
Mr Kelly said the DUP were allowing extremists to dictate their policies.
“We are in a crisis,” he said.
“We are in partnership government. That hasn’t been manifested, especially in the office of the first minister and deputy first minister (OFMDFM), and in the relationship between the first and deputy first ministers.
“The government works on the basis of power sharing, that has to be a leadership of power sharing, everything in that office has to be by consensus.”
DUP MLA Gregory Campbell accused Sinn Féin of talking up a crisis.
“Sinn Féin seem to want to have a republican agenda going on at the heart of what they want and if they don’t get what they want then they throw everything out of the pram,” he said.
“Well that’s not going to happen. If they want to talk up a crisis that’s a matter for them.”
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, also said there is no crisis at Stormont.
Mr Nesbitt said: “There is no crisis, there is just some competitive posturing between Sinn Féin and the DUP.
“But there is a fundamental issue which has raised itself to the surface again and it is, who really wants to share power, share space and share a future.
“The Ulster Unionist Party will not be deterred by the current spat. It is time to deliver and do what’s right for Northern Ireland.”
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood accused Sinn Féin of “looking on meekly as the DUP work to hollow out the Good Friday Agreement”.
Mr Attwood said: “What we now face has been coming for a long time. The SDLP has repeatedly said that the less we live by the values and the less we live up to the hopes of the Good Friday Agreement, the more confidence deteriorates and politics degrades. That is where we have come to.
“The DUP and Sinn Féin have jointly brought this on all of us. If anything, the DUP have been more flagrant as they cling to the ways of the past across multiple issues, like flags and parades.
“Sinn Féin try to be smarter, but as Castlederg proves, Sinn Féin relentlessly assert that the IRA were fully justified, and a terror campaign against civilian population was good. Sinn Féin have looked on meekly as the DUP work to hollow out the Good Friday Agreement.”
Tensions between the DUP and Sinn Féin have been escalating over loyalist violence over flags and parades.
Mr Adams asked why Mr Robinson had not stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Mr McGuinness, to condemn the violence.
All-party talks on flags, parades and the past, chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass, began last week.
He asked the parties to meet in his absence – he is due to return next month.
They aim to tackle some of the most divisive issues still facing people in Northern Ireland 15 years after the Good Friday Agreement.
The diplomat was called in after a difficult year that saw violent street protests linked to the union flag dispute, increased tensions over parades and controversy over the proposed peace centre at the site of the former Maze Prison.