Sinn Fein leader in powersharing call as Brexit draws closer (Belfast Telegraph)

Powersharing in Northern Ireland should be in place to protect people’s interests as Brexit draws closer, the Sinn Fein leader has said.

Mary Lou McDonald also said Stormont should be up and running to stand up to “destructive Tory policies”.

In her New Year message, Ms McDonald said: “An Executive in the North should be in place delivering for all in the community, growing the economy, standing up to destructive Tory policies and representing the majority view on Brexit.”

She added: “No government could sustain the abuse of power and intolerance displayed by the DUP. All the while the Irish and British governments looked on and refused to act. It is a disgrace that the institutions of the north are not up and running.”

It is almost two years since powersharing in Northern Ireland collapsed.

Ms McDonald claimed a deal had been reached between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist leadership that would have reinstated the institutions, but that the DUP “walked away”.

“The DUP know that their deal with the Tories will end. They also know that the refusal of rights is not compatible with equality and power-sharing government.

“They should also know that there is no good or positive Brexit for the north.”

She added that her party was “ready” for talks on the formation of a new Executive.

Addressing the issue in her New Year message, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the party would work towards a return to Stormont, but they could not be expected to accept “unreasonable” demands.

“Sinn Fein continues to veto the formation of a new Northern Ireland Executive unless we first agree to implement their narrow wishlist of republican demands,” she said.

“Of course there is room for a balanced agreement but it is unreasonable to expect unionists to roll over to every Sinn Fein demand.”

Mrs Foster said she wanted the UK to leave the EU with a “sensible deal” that works for everyone involved and that the DUP would be holding British Prime Minister Theresa May to her promises to “get changes” to the legally binding withdrawal agreement.

“We will be holding her to that commitment and we will work with the Government to achieve a better deal,” she said.

“We are very mindful that any deal will bind the hands of future governments and prime ministers, therefore the legal text must be watertight for the United Kingdom.

“Whilst some have sought to use the EU exit negotiations as a platform to launch attacks on the Prime Minister and the Government, that is not our focus and we will not be party to such games when dealing with such an important issue.”

She concluded that the DUP would not shirk its responsibilities in Westminster, Brussels, Belfast and local government.

“2019 will be a challenging year with historic decisions to be made but we will work as a team to ensure the right decisions are made,” she said.


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